Carl Hansen & Søn


Architecture must originate in nature

United by a belief in skilled craftsmanship and the beauty of natural materials, Tadao Ando, one of the world's leading architects, and Carl Hansen & Søn share a passion for honest construction and outstanding quality.

Architecture must originate in nature

For this Study, Carl Hansen & Søn celebrates the masterful architecture and work of Tadao Ando, including the Dream Chair, Ando's tribute to Hans J. Wegner designed exclusively for Carl Hansen & Søn.

Ando believes that the meeting between building and nature is an essential aspect of architecture - one that unfortunately lacks in the modern era. Through many of his works, Ando seeks to reunite this connection.

"My approach towards architecture is to create harmony between architecture and elements of nature; such as light, wind, the sounds of nature and waves, and rich sceneries. I want all these aspects to be combined with the ambition to create a comfortable space executed with the arrangements of the geometry."

4x4 House, Kobe, Hyogo.

Natural materials and traditional craftsmanship are fundamental to Ando's caring and respectful approach to nature. This passionate approach to design was among the reasons he chose to partner with Carl Hansen & Søn without hesitation: Ando knew that for over a century, Carl Hansen & Søn has demonstrated expertise in using the finest craftsmanship to build wooden furniture designed by the world-renowned architects. The partnership, both immensely and mutually inspiring, has evolved into Ando's Dream Chair, inspired by the work of Hans J. Wegner.

One of the world's most influential architects, Tadao Ando has a fascinating, unconventional background. In 1951, at the age of 10, Ando began work as an apprentice for a local carpenter in Osaka, Japan. There, he had the opportunity to work with wood, building models to explore the material's countless properties. Ando was an exceptionally independent-minded apprentice, preferring to work through challenges without the help of his master. At 15, Ando discovered a book of Le Corbusier's sketches that sparked his serious interest in architecture.

Ando has never had formal training, but after a brief boxing career, he set to Africa, the United States, and Europe to study architecture on his own. In Finland and Sweden, he familiarized himself with the work of Aalto and Asplund; and in Denmark, he was deeply impressed by the iconic furniture of Hans J. Wegner and others. Since then, Ando has frequently cited his admiration for the Danish masters, often using their furniture in his own buildings. Collaborating with Carl Hansen & Søn thus seemed an appropriate next step.

Ando personally suggested the Chichu Art Museum as the ideal setting for photo shoots of the Dream Chair.

Since founding Tadao Ando Architects & Associates in 1969, Ando has constructed over 150 buildings of all scales. In Japan, his numerous works include the Row House Sumiyoshi, the Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center, the Church of Light in Osaka, and the Rokko Housing complex. Among his many international projects are the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis, Missouri, the Punta Bella Dogana Museum in Venice, and the Siddhartha Children and Women Hospital in Nepal.

Ando has won many prestigious awards over the course of his career, including the Carlsberg Architectural Prize in 1992, the Pritzker Prize in 1995, the Premium Imperiale in 1996 and the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1997.

The powerful, minimalist expression of Ando's buildings unites Japanese design traditions with western Modernism. His architecture is characterized by simple, clean lines, self-assured spaces, and stringent, geometric layouts.

Often executed exclusively in concrete, Ando's work represents his interest in the material with seemingly endless possibilities. He is known for his work with in-situ concrete, using smooth plywood sheets for casting the concrete, providing a smooth surface - apart from the holes left by the mould, which have become part of his architectural signature.

Ando's choice of materials - combined with the use of sound and daylight, of which he is a sublime master - defines spaces and volumes, making them stand out more clearly.

Built in 2004 on the island of Naoshima in southern Japan, the Chichu Art Museum epitomizes the essence of Ando's architectural philosophy. The unusual museum houses a permanent exhibition of works by Claude Monet, James Turell and Walter De Maria.

Although almost invisible, the Chichu Art Museum features geometric protrusions one can see from the air.

To avoid intruding on the island's spectacular natural beauty, the art museum has been built into a mountainside, underground. Although almost invisible, the building features geometric protrusions one can see from the air. In designing the Chichu Art Museum, Ando wanted to rethink the relationship between nature and people, and his solution is a triumph. Visitors cannot fail to be captivated by the spirituality of the place and the dramatic encounter of earth, sea, sky, architecture and art.

Despite the museum's subterranean location, the galleries are amply illuminated with daylight, which Ando varies and controls to alter the appearance of the artworks and the ambiance of the rooms throughout the day and seasons.

The elegantly designed rooms provide a beautiful backdrop for art but are also suitable for sculptural pieces of furniture. Ando personally suggested the Chichu Art Museum as the ideal setting for photo shoots of the Dream Chair, which references his architecture in many ways:"I decided to have the photo shoot of the Dream Chair at Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima because I believe the museum is one of the finest examples expressing my interpretation of space and approach towards architecture…I see a similar intention with the Dream Chair."

The chair and museum interior are each created from one material - three-dimensional plywood and concrete, respectively. The concrete surfaces offer a clean, expansive backdrop for the Dream Chair, while soft daylight from various angles directly and indirectly accentuates the chair's organic lines. The smooth, grey concrete also contrasts with and complements the warm undertones of both the oak and walnut versions of the Dream Chair.

Selected work by Tadao Ando. 1: Church of Light, Ibaraki, Osaka. 2-4: Row House Sumiyoshi, Osaka. 5-7: Koshino House, Ashiya-shi, Japan. 8-9: Pullitzer Foundation for the Arts, St .Louis, Missouri, USA.

This piece was originally published in Carl Hansen & Søn eMag November 2013.

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