SANAA Drop Chair by Nishizawa and Sejima

SANAA’s unmistakable signature is evident in this emblematic chair designed by Ryue Nishizawa and Kazuyo Sejima, embodying the design philosophy of the firm.

SANAA Drop Chair by Nishizawa and Sejima
SANAA Drop Chair by Nishizawa and Sejima.

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Shapes of Nature

SANAA’s distinctive design is unmistakable in this emblematic piece furniture: the main source of inspiration for the firm has always been identified in animals and nature, following the idea of balance and lightness. One of their major pieces is undoubtedly the “drop chair”, designed for the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, in Kanazawa. Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, the two heads of SANAA studio, set on designing a raindrop-shaped armless chair, completely made in aluminum. The raindrop is the perfect example of balanced change, as by falling down causes a movement, making a moderate ripple on the surface of the pond. The material reflects the surrounding, imparting a sense of lightness to the structure, strengthened by its three thin chair legs, made of metal as well.

An analogously important piece, found in the samr museum, is the Nextmaruni armless chair, designed keeping in mind the form of rabbit ears and realized in natural birch; it is, possibly, a testimony to SANAA‘s notable collaboration with Alessi, the Italian design company known for reinventing the design of everyday objects using colorful, plaything-like designs, with whom they produced a tea service in sleek, stainless steel, with the boilers being all notably shaped like apples and pears, adding SANAA’s own natural touch to a traditionally industrial aesthetic.

SANAA Drop Chair
SANAA Drop Chair (2005)

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The story of SANAA

SANAA is a Japanese firm founded by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, in 1995; in a few years, the brand has established itself on the international stage as one of the major and most impactful architectural firms of the 21st century. The unmistakable signature of the brand is their distinctive minimalism, which made SANAA protagonist of projects like the New Museum in New York, the circular production facility of the Vitra Campus, as well as the serene Louvre-Lens in France.

As for the architects themselves, Sejima was born in Tokyo, where she studied Architecture. After receiving her degree, she opened her own studio, and was later rewarded as Young Architect of the Year by the Japan Institute of Architects. Ryue Nishizawa graduated with a Master’s degree in Architecture at the Yokohama National University, and during this period he met Sejima. After a collaboration lasting for several years, Nishizawa and Sejima founded SANAA, or “Seijima and Nishizawa and Partners”.

Ryue Nishizawa, on the left, and Kazuyo Sejima, on the right, co-founded their Tokyo-based firm, SANAA, in 1995.
Ryue Nishizawa, on the left, and Kazuyo Sejima, on the right, co-founded their Tokyo-based firm, SANAA, in 1995.
(Photo by Takashi Okamoto).

Image source: Author:Caroline Newman

All About Inclusiveness

SANAA’s distinctive style is focused on the brand’s ultimate goal: to encourage interaction with the environment and the architecture. This philosophy leads to abstract, minimalist spaces, not rarely of transparent materials or patterns. This minimalism is oriented to the personalization and interpretation of the surroundings, with no preconception, promoting the idea that a building is not completed until it is inhabited. This immaterial physical space seems to show almost no physical details, as a blank canvas: glass, concrete and soft structure, in addition to a magistral use of light, draw ephemeral forms, helping the visitor to focus on the social dimension of a building. SANAA’s philosophy is as far as possible from an aseptic vision of the building as “white box”, but is an attempt to draw the attention on the deepest essence of the architecture: the human beings.

SANAA - Louvre Lens Museum -  by Iwan Baan
SANAA – Louvre Lens Museum – by Iwan Baan

Image source: by 準建築人手札網站 Forgemind ArchiMedia

A case point is the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, which embodies the concept of “city within a city”, containing smaller rectangular volumes surrounded by a transparent circle. In this way was created a pattern-breaking space, which promotes the free circulation between different zones. SANAA’s Rolex Learning Center in Switzerland underlines the focus on humanity and the sociality of the firm. This minimalist space refuses every form of barrier, featuring an open space lit by large windows, which create a play of lights on the neutral environment. The grouping is encouraged also by shared spaces, circular tables and chairs, to promote sharing knowledge and team working.

Interior of Rolex Learning Center
Interior of Rolex Learning Center by SANAA.

Image source: by PaoloMazzoleni

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