architecturally influenced hermit crab habitats by aki inomata architecturally influenced hermit crab habitats by aki inomata
jul 22, 2013

architecturally influenced hermit crab habitats by aki inomata

architecturally influenced hermit crab habitats by aki inomata
‘why not hand over a shelter to hermit crabs?’, 2009
all images © aki inomata



japanese artist aki inomata creates intricately crafted plastic habitats for hermit crabs, which are influenced by the architecture of major cityscapes — the new york city skyline, a parisian apartment, and a tokyo-style house. the semi-transparent, delicate forms are designed in the style of physical human environments, which ironically become a shelter for the aquatic arthropods. the biology of the hermit crab makes it a fascinating example of identity transfer — as they grow they require larger shells and periodically interchange their external portion with other members of the crustacean community. inomata connects her study of the hermit’s transformation to the self-adaptation of humans, whether it be in acquiring a new nationality, immigrating or relocating.



‘why not hand over a shelter to a hermit crab’
video courtesy of aki inomata



throughout her creative process, she determined that her plastic representations needed to sustain and support the hermit crab’s careful shell-selection process. she used CT scanning, typically a medical imaging procedure that produces cross-sectional pictures of the body, to capture highly-detailed, 3-dimensional renderings of an unoccupied seashell, which one of her hermit crabs had abandoned. based on the tomography of the interior of the shell, she prototyped and produced several types of habitable shelters, which the hermits would find similar in construction to their usual exoskeleton.



‘why not hand over a shelter to hermit crabs?’, 2010



‘why not hand over a shelter to hermit crabs?’, 2010



‘why not hand over a shelter to hermit crabs?’, 2010



‘why not hand over a shelter to hermit crabs?’, 2009


‘why not hand over a shelter to hermit crabs?’, 2009 


‘why not hand over a shelter to hermit crabs?’, 2010


in her work ‘world outside your world’, inomata placed a spherical plastic shell on the outside of a turtle, decorated with carved village houses that are typical to a traditional japanese landscape.



‘world outside your world’, 2011



‘world outside your world’, 2011



installation view at the ai kowada gallery, japan



detail of one of the hermit crab habitats
installation view at the ai kowada gallery, japan



  • Hello! These sculptures are beautiful and a creative idea. I was wondering if you are selling them and if so how much? Thanks!

    Diane says:
  • With global warming and rising oceans it is very possible that the inhabitants of our coastal cities will in fact be hermit crabs and turtles.

    Rich says:
  • Can I just say exactly what a relief to get someone who actually knows precisely what theyre talking about on the internet. You need to know how to bring an issue to light to make it essential. More people should read this along with understand this side of the history. I find it difficult to believe you are not more popular simply because you definitely have the gift.

    nathan says:

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