situated on the island of san giorgio maggiore in venice, the ‘glass tea house mondrian’ by japanese artist hiroshi sugimoto unites wood, glass and water as a pavilion, holding the traditional japanese tea ceremony within its transparent walls. the temporary structure, presented at the venice architecture biennale 2014 as part of the activities of le stanze del vetro, consists of two main elements: an open-air landscape courtyard and an enclosed glass cube.

 

the garden follows a path leading along a forty-foot-long reflecting pool completely covered in bisazza mosaic from the fondazione bisazza, guiding the visitor to a lucent space, inside which the cultural ritual is performed. the pavilion hosts two visitors at once, together with the master of the tea ceremony, while the other spectators — up to a maximum of 30 — can take part by watching around the perimeter of the volume.

glass tea house mondrian pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto opens in venice
both technical proficiency and handcraft are combined in the construction
image © designboom

glass tea house pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto
staggered wooden landings guide the visitor within the lucent cube
image © hiroshi sugimoto+new material research laboratory.
courtesy of le stanze del vetro (fondazione giorgio cini and pentagram stiftung)

 

 

derived from the design of the ise-shrine (a shinto shrine dedicated to goddess amaterasu-ōmikami), the exterior fence that wraps the pavilion is made entirely of cedar wood, sourced from the tōhoku region — an area devastated by the 2011 tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. the long reflecting pool made of the glass mosaics at the center of the landscape comprises the second feature of the installation, leading the visitor to the nucleus the site. both technical proficiency and handcraft are combined in the construction of the glass cube and the wooden elements, bringing together history and modernity, tradition and technology.

glass tea house pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto
a long reflecting pool made of glass mosaics is at the center of the landscape
image © hiroshi sugimoto+new material research laboratory.
courtesy of le stanze del vetro (fondazione giorgio cini and pentagram stiftung)

 

 

the design draws influence from pre-modern abstraction, as perfected by sen no rikyû — a historical figure considered to have the most profound influence on ‘chanoyu’, the tea ceremonial.I decided that a japanese transliteration of the name ‘mondrian’ would be an ideal name. I combined three characters that betoken ‘a modest house where one can hear the birds sing.’ I like to think that this tea house was designed by mondrian after he heard sen no rikyû speaking to him through the singing of the birds’, says artist hiroshi sugimoto.

glass tea house mondrian pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto opens in venice
situated on the island of san giorgio maggiore in venice
image © designboom

glass tea house pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto
wood, glass and water unite as a pavilion
image © hiroshi sugimoto+new material research laboratory.
courtesy of le stanze del vetro (fondazione giorgio cini and pentagram stiftung)

 

 

relating to its surrounding environment and the historical context of the site, sugimoto’s ‘glass tea house’ suggests a subtle analogy between the ancient tea ceremony practice and the art of venetian glassmaking. in both cases — as in any custom deeply rooted in culture — the rituals require a combination of adroit expertise, highly individual knowledge, social instruction passed on on from one generation to the next, and the values of societal identities. in this way, the pavilion bridges east and west and encourages an discourse about different traditions of knowledge, pathways to perfection and ideas of beauty.

glass tea house pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto
details reveal both the technical proficiencies and handcraft combined in the cube and wooden elements
image © hiroshi sugimoto+new material research laboratory.
courtesy of le stanze del vetro (fondazione giorgio cini and pentagram stiftung)

 

 

the ‘glass tea house mondrian’ is a project by le stanze del vetro – a long term joint initiative between fondazione giorgio cini and pentagram stiftung – which was made possible thanks to the support of sumitomo forestry co. ltd., and fondazione bisazza, in collaboration with asahi building-wall co. ltd. 

glass tea house mondrian pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto opens in venice
the entrance to the pavillion
image © designboom

glass tea house pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto
the exterior fence that wraps the pavilion is made entirely of cedar wood, sourced from the tōhoku region
image © hiroshi sugimoto+new material research laboratory.
courtesy of le stanze del vetro (fondazione giorgio cini and pentagram stiftung)

glass tea house pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto
the surrounding area is enclosed by greenery and wooden materials
images © hiroshi sugimoto+new material research laboratory.
courtesy of le stanze del vetro (fondazione giorgio cini and pentagram stiftung)

glass tea house mondrian pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto opens in venice
the wooden materials juxtapose the glass cube
image © designboom

glass tea house mondrian pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto opens in venice
the master of the tea ceremony performs the traditional japanese rituals
image © hiroshi sugimoto+new material research laboratory.
courtesy of le stanze del vetro (fondazione giorgio cini and pentagram stiftung)

glass tea house mondrian pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto opens in venice
kazuyo sejima of SANAA and hiroshi sugimoto within the cube
image © designboom

glass tea house mondrian pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto opens in venice
kazuyo sejima and hiroshi sugimoto beginning the tea ceremony
image © designboom

 

designboom talks to the japanese artist about where he has drawn influence for the tea house, how and where it was made and its relationship to his previous creative practice.

 


hiroshi sugimoto talks to designboom

glass tea house mondrian pavilion by hiroshi sugimoto opens in venice
portrait of hiroshi sugimoto
image © designboom

 

 

about hiroshi sugimoto:

 

hiroshi sugimoto was born in 1948 in tokyo. he graduated from st. paul’s university (tokyo) in 1970 and the art center college of design (los angeles) in 1974. he moved to new york that year. selected solo exhibitions of sugimoto’s work have been staged at international institutions including the j. paul getty museum at the getty center, the guggenheim museums (in new york, bilbao, and berlin), the chianti foundation (marfa, texas), the hirshhorn museum and sculpture garden, the serpentine gallery, the metropolitan museum of art and the museum of contemporary art (los angeles). a major 30-year retrospective of the artist’s work was hosted at the mori art museum (tokyo) in 2005, which traveled to the hirshhorn museum and sculpture garden and onward to the modern art museum of fort worth, texas. in 2009, sugimoto established the odawara art foundation to promote japanese culture (the japan society awarded the foundation a $6 million grant in 2014). in addition to his stature as a contemporary visual artist, sugimoto’s work has crossed over into the realms of fashion (collaborating with hermès for his couleurs de l’ombre project for art basel in 2012) and music (legendary irish band u2 selected his 1993 photograph boden sea, uttwil for their 2009 album no line on the horizon). his work is held in the permanent collections of the art institute of chicago, the brooklyn museum, the solomon r. guggenheim museum, the hara museum of contemporary art (tokyo), the israel museum, the metropolitan museum of art, the centre georges pompidou, the museum of modern art (moma), the national gallery (washington, d.c.), the san francisco museum of modern art, and tate modern, among many others. sugimoto lives and works in new york.

 

project credits:

 

production: le stanze del vetro
title: glass tea house mondrian
design: hiroshi sugimoto, new material research laboratory
fondazione giorgio cini and pentagram stiftung
tomoyuki sakakida
yuichi hashimura
associate architect: cattaruzza & millosevich associated architects
project manager: kawamura office / naoko kawamura
sponsors: sumitomo forestry co., ltd.
in collaboration with: asahi building-wall co., ltd.
building partners: costruzioni e restauri g. salmistrari s.r.l.
fondazione bisazza
sumitomo forestry co., ltd.
asahi building-wall co., ltd.
ishimaru co., ltd.
project coordinator: francesca nisii
head of communication: tommaso speretta
the ‘glass tea house’ is supervised by: so’oku sen / mushakoji-senke tea school

 

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