chiharu shiota suspends a fleet of woven white boats inside paris' le bon marché

chiharu shiota suspends a fleet of woven white boats inside paris' le bon marché

inside the historic le bon marché department store in paris, japanese artist chiharu shiota has suspended 150 sculptural boats from the ceiling, figuratively ‘sailing’ across the space. drawn from typologies found across a range of cultures and communities, the hollowed out metal hulls — seemingly etched with a pencil — hang from the store’s central glass roof, surrounding visitors in an all-white abyss.

as part of the exhibition ‘where are we going?’, shiota has sculpted a monumental mesh wave titled ‘memory of the ocean’ on the ground floor that visitors can experience by walking through as if they were under the sea. finally, the building’s façade displays 10 woven vitrines, each occupied by a complex labyrinth of interwoven white material and sculptural elements that hint at the installation hosted inside.

chiharu shiota — where are we going
video courtesy of le bon marché rive gauche



chiharu shiota offers an immersive and multi-sensory experience inside le bon marché. the exhibition invites visitors to ‘sail towards a fresh start’ as they ponder the origin and destination of the boats, taking them on a journey of uncertainty and wonder. the installation marks the first time shiota has used white yarn in an artwork — moving away from her typical use of red. the event continues le bon marché’s collaboration with artists, following ai weiwei’s installation of bamboo and paper kite creatures last year (see more about the exhibition on designboom here).

chiharu shiota le bon marche
the installation comprises a series of boats suspended from the shopping center’s ceiling 
image by gabriel de la chapelle



shiota’s work portrays boats through her own distinct lens. when asked what ‘ships’ mean to her, she comments: when I was a child, during vacation, my family would take the ferry to go from osaka to kochi. we would spend the night there. the next day, it was like we were in a new world: the world of vacation and sea. her approach is quite varied as she is interested in their multiple shapes, their mixed cultural history and their uncertain destinations. as well as their ability to travel, to connect one point in the world to another and to carry people along with their imaginations.

chiharu shiota le bon marche
visitors are taken through a journey of uncertainty and wonder
image by gabriel de la chapelle



‘chiharu shiota is a powerful artist,’ patrice wagner, CEO of le bon marché rive gauche says. ‘her work, such as her installation at the latest venice biennale, provides a hopeful and humane perspective on the present and the future. like every exhibition, this one represents a great adventure for le bon marché. its ambition is to introduce customers to the work of an artist so that they enjoy a special experience and walk away with a piece of that magic.’

chiharu shiota le bon marche
the suspended white mesh conveys the themes of nature, snow and purity
image by gabriel de la chapelle

chiharu shiota le bon marche
the exhibition marks the first time chiharu shiota has used white yarn
image by gabriel de la chapelle

chiharu shiota le bon marche
a large-woven canopy called ‘memories of the ocean’ mimics the feeling of being underwater
image by gabriel de la chapelle

chiharu shiota le bon marche
the exhibition invites visitors to ‘sail towards a fresh start’
image by gabriel de la chapelle

chiharu shiota le bon marche
by night, the suspended boats are illuminated above visitors 
image by say who/romain mayoussier

with the installation, the artist aims to highlight the idea of ‘hope’
image by say who/romain mayoussier

shiota explores the various ties that connect us as human beings
image by say who/romain mayoussier

as part of the exhibition, shiota has woven ten window displays on site

the building’s façade displays 10 woven vitrines

each display is occupied by a complex labyrinth of interwoven white material

sculptural elements hint at the installation hosted inside the store


    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    art news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    502,534 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample