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Kengo Kuma creates bamboo installation for Chinese technology company to showcase during Milan Design Week 2021

September 6, 2021

Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has designed an installation titled Bamboo (竹) Ring :|| Weaving a Symphony of Lightness and Form for the ongoing Milan Design Week. Created in collaboration with Chinese smartphone maker Oppo, the multi-sensory installation is based on the theme of “Creative Connections” that fuses architecture with music, design innovation, technological prowess, and user experience to create a sense of time and space, and will be on display in Milan’s Cortile dei Bagni courtyard for the duration of Milan Design Week, until 19 September. 

This landmark project is an evolution of 67-year-old Mr Kuma and the Chinese company’s Bamboo Ring exhibition which debuted at the 2019 edition of the London Design Festival and explored the harmonious relationship between humans and nature through the envisioning of lightweight yet strong structures made with bamboo – a material that Mr Kuma favours a lot in his work – and carbon fibre. The latest edition of the experiential installation uses pioneering technology to engage all the senses through a series of orchestral scores composed by Japanese violinist Midori Komachi with Musicity.

The composition is based on the cycle of seasons and moves through the structure encouraging the public to walk around to get a sensorial experience . The changing soundscapes integrate the sound of Midori’s violin (built in Milan in 1920 and enhanced with carbon fibre itself) from O Relax, Oppo’s digital wellbeing application that offers comforting nature and city sounds to relax the user’s mind, and taken from global cities, including Reykjavik, Beijing, and Tokyo. 

“When I design architecture, I’m interested in designing the rhythm and the tone rather than the silhouette, and contemporary music gives us many lessons about how to create new rhythms and tones in architecture. This pavilion is one of the explorations into the new rhythms and tones in architecture combining visual and acoustic experiences of the visitors.”

Kengo Kuma, architects

The installation’s woven structure – crafted from rings of bamboo and carbon fibre – becomes a musical instrument as music travels through it via structural sound technologies originating from Oppo London Design Centre’s research. Innovative technology including new haptic motors, MEMS speaker strips, and exciters work together to produce an immersive base and higher frequencies which reverberate the bamboo with violin’s vibrato and the effect of a percussion instrument.

“Oppo is a human-centric brand, our focus is on innovating for the people. We are delighted to partner with Kengo Kuma again, an architect who is known for seamlessly integrating nature and culture. Together, we demonstrate how we can use technology and design to add value to our daily lives drawing on our philosophy principles of “Technology as an Art Form” and  our brand mission “Technology for Mankind, Being Kind to the World.”  

Jintong Zhu, Head of Oppo London Design Centre

After Milan Design Week, Oppo will donate Bamboo Ring to Arte Sella Park in Trentino, Italy, a contemporary art museum with outdoor exhibits made from natural materials and backdropped by the mountainous Sella Valley, where it will find its permanent home.

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