exhibition seeks to view the world of insects as models for design at 21_21 design sight

exhibition seeks to view the world of insects as models for design at 21_21 design sight

from july 19 to november 4, 2019, tokyo’s 21_21 design sight holds an exhibition titled insects: models for design. directed by graphic designer taku satoh and supervised by anatomist and insect-lover takeshi yoro, the show seeks to view the mysterious world of insects as models for design. from their richness of color to their physiological qualities and structures and habits, these animals have evolved over much longer periods than humans, and by observing their diversity, the exhibition aims to discover new creative possibilities.


designboom recently visited and photographed the exhibition — watch the video above to get a closer look.

insects models for design 21_12 design sight designboom
taku satoh ‘weevil legs’ (photo: satoshi asakawa)



human life dates back to about two hundred thousand years, whereas insects evolved and reproduced for hundreds of millions of years, along diverse pathways, never succumbing to the most drastic environmental turbulence. most of the time we despise these animals, treating them as objects for extermination when there is so much we can learn from them. people assume that an urban landscape devoid of insects is natural, and most of the time prefer to kill them without thinking of what they can offer us.

insects models for design 21_12 design sight designboom
‘specimen of insect’ (photo: satoshi asakawa)



insects: models for design at 21_21 design sight urges people to liberate themselves from prejudice and look at insects once again, with a different eye, similar to that of children. inside the galleries, designers, architects, structural engineers and artists exhibit work inspired by insects. some have used their tiny skeletal systems to produce artificial objects, others have studied the skillful way they unfold their wings and applied this to robots, while others have learned from the structure of larva nest to generate human architecture.

insects models for design 21_12 design sight designboom
image © designboom



overall, the exhibition offers creators and visitors and opportunity to learn from insects and to reconsider their relationships with us. ‘the insect world is amazing,’ comments taku satoh. ‘their enormously long-term survival, I am sure, offers hints for the future of humankind too. we all learned a lot while working on this show, and many contributing creators have put a wide range of works on display. we believe that all phenomena around us are related with design.’

insects models for design 21_12 design sight designboom
yosuke abe + kenji kohiyama + munetoshi maruyama ‘the shape of insects’ (photo: satoshi asakawa)

insects models for design 21_12 design sight designboom
view of gallery 2 (photo: satoshi asakawa)

shunji yamanaka + kazuya saito + hiroshi sugihara + kotaro tanimichi + mitsuru muramatsu ‘ready to fly’ (photo: satoshi asakawa)

image © designboom

view of gallery 2 (photo: satoshi asakawa)

tokuro oka + mao kobayashi ‘mao moth laos’ (photo: satoshi asakawa)

tokuro oka + mao kobayashi ‘mao moth laos’

macoto murayama ‘curculio camelliae’

kenji kohiyama ‘caddisfly nest’

perfektron ‘beautiful and creepy peep hole’

image © designboom

mirai mizue ‘inside the cocoon’



exhibition outline


date: july 19 (fri) – november 4 (mon), 2019
venue: 21_21 design sight gallery 1 & 2
closed: tuesdays (except october 22)
time: 10:00 – 19:00 (entrance until 18:30)

organized by: 21_21 design sight, the miyake issey foundation
in association with: agency of cultural affairs; ministry of economy, trade and industry; minato city board of education
special sponsor: mitsui fdosan co., ltd.
sponsor: tsdo inc.
supported by: stratasys japan co., ltd., kyushu university museum, canon inc., canon marketing japan inc.


exhibition director: taku satoh
supervisor: takeshi yoro
exhibit design, graphic design (promotion): tomohiro okazaki
planning associates: kenji kohiyama, keiki fukui, munetoshi maruyama
graphic design (exhibition infographics): sui mukai (tsdo)
space design: lui igarashi
text: mai tsunoo
associate supervisor: maho adachi


participating creators: yosuke abe, takeshi ishiguro, tokuro oka + mao kobayashi, kengo kuma and associates + alan burden / norihiro ejiri / jun sato, kenji kohiyama, keita suzuki, takeo nakano, hiroka hasegawa, perfektron, haruka misawa (nippon design center, inc.), mirai mizue, sui mukai (tsdo), macoto murayama, suzuka fujita + yukiko uno + kenji abe, shunji yamanaka + kazuya saito + hiroshi sugihara + kotaro tanimichi + mitsuru muramatsu, satoshi yoshiizumi (takt project), akira wakita


exhibit supervision / cooperation: shuhei nomura (national museum of nature and science, tokyo), hiroaki kojima (tokyo university of agriculture), seiichi okuyama, seidai nagashima, masashi enju, tatsuya niisato (bio indicator co., ltd.), institute of plastination, masato sasaki (tama art university), takahiko hariyama (hamamatsu university school of medicine), fumihiko hirai (tokyo bug boys), takahiro murakami (institution of decision science for a sustainable society, kyushu university), ryuma niiyama (the university of tokyo), hiroyuki wakahara


21_21 design sight directors: issey miyake, taku satoh, naoto fukasawa
associate director: noriko kawakami
director of programs: tatsuya maemura

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