Kawasaki is a professor and design director of the graduate school of engineering Osaka University and a doctor of medical science. He has designed award-winning spectacles, interior goods, a folding wheel chair, computer hardware, a smart atomic engine and artificial organs – amongst other things.

When an art museum is a ‘work’ there arises the problem of a sense of distance between it and the ‘exhibited works’ in the art space.

That sense of distance is precisely the problem of ‘venue’ = topography.

It is the surfacing of the problem of ‘proximity’ that relates to how the exhibited works and the venue of exhibition confront each other or harmonise. Specifically speaking, a certain type of interaction between the artists and the architect of the art museum occurs.

This interaction becomes a device to control the sensitivity of the ‘venue’ in people who visit the art museum to appreciate the ‘works’. A formula becomes established here in which the institution and the device totally controls the viewers’ sense of value.

‘Designed works’ in particular are things that became commercial goods from manufactured products. It is, therefore, unavoidable that the sensitivity and sense of value of the viewers regarding the space change in the ‘venue’ of the art museum from the point of view of the ‘venue’ as a place for works = goods.

This is not possible even in ordinary shop space and even with arrangements and exhibits in showrooms.

Even so, I can’t avoid the earnest longing for the products I designed to be exhibited in art museums and even be included in their permanent collections.

Why is this so? There are two reasons. One is that the design becomes goods and the intention of the design dissolves within that commercialism. An arrangement, therefore, that institutionally states and determines (the intent and decision in design) becomes important to prevent this dissolution.

The other is that the product acquires the assurance of becoming a historical fact on the time line as a ‘work’ (by being included in the permanent collection). And the designer wishes to secure its sustainability as a ‘work’. This is why the social efficacy of the art museum is accepted.

Kazuo Kawasaki

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