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Architecture and Design

Architecture

The museum design was entrusted to the noted architect, Kengo Kuma, who has sought to create the comfortable ambiance of an “urban living room,” a space characterized by tranquility and comfort, drawing inspiration from “Japanese Modern” while fusing Japanese traditional with contemporary values. The exterior is covered by vertical louvers made of white porcelain and lending a sense of transparency. Interior finishes use both wood and traditional washi (Japanese paper), creating the natural warmth for which Japan is noted, while admitting a soft light. The flooring used throughout the museum is white oak from recycled whiskey barrels.

The galleries are located on the third and fourth floors, with a ceiling height of 9.3 meters on the third floor. Movable partitions separate adjacent exhibit rooms. The use of Japanese fusuma (sliding doors) and shoji (paper-screen sliding panels) as partitions permits them to be opened and closed, allowing multiple use of the exhibit spaces. With adjustable paulownia wood lattices on the glass surfaces, it is possible to slide the lattices and produce the effect of letting in light from outside.

The sixth floor includes a hall for events and the Genchō-an Tearoom, part of which was moved from the old museum. The third floor includes the shop x cafe, a combination of museum shop and cafe. It offers a good place to relax and enjoy reflecting on the experience after viewing an exhibition.

The museum as an ‘urban living room’

Kengo Kuma

Kengo Kuma, Architect
http://kkaa.co.jp/

The concept of the museum draws from the idea of an ‘urban living room’. Creating this type of space is direct response to the global phenomenon of the “interiorization” of the city.
As technologies for communication and transportation continue to erase the distance between people and things, the city as a whole is transforming into one collective “interior” space. As with a house, the city is full of bedrooms, dining rooms, and connecting passageways, however it is noticeably lacking a living room, an informal space to relax or enjoy time together. That is, a place where time passes more slowly, where casual conversations materialize between friends, or perhaps between people and objects: that space is nowhere to be found. The Suntory Museum of Art drew up its plans with the intention of becoming that missing element, the quiet living room in the bustling city of Tokyo.

In the twentieth century, the public was looking for “massive urban monuments” in museum. Now, though, in the twenty-first century, the public is seeking something different, the tranquil “living room”. Indeed, no museum is better suited to create this “living room” than the Suntory Museum of Art, where “Art within Everyday Life” is central to their founding philosophy. Suntory, at the leading edge of new global trends, presents this new paradigm.

We concluded that the architecture of an urban living room should not be ostentatious in its presence. Thus, we composed the living room using materials that are approachable, and familiar, with a human connection – for example, white porcelain, gentle to the touch, paulownia wood, which maintains humidity, and white oak, used in barrels.

We applied the idea of a traditional Japanese window design, the muso lattice, dynamically regulating the light from the park just outside. The lattices filter light and views into our living room. Having used this device effectively for centuries, the changing seasons and the passage of time are relished by the Japanese people.

Beautiful art, friendly materials, bathed in gentle light: here time flows without haste. This is a place for people to take their time, developing new relationships between people and art.

The Suntory Museum of Art Symbol

The museum uses a symbol based on the hiragana glyph character_mi (pronounced mi) as its logo. A transformation of the kanji character character_bi, “beauty, art,” character_mi embodies our museum’s mission: “Art revisited, beauty revealed.” The hiragana syllabary, derived from the kanji characters introduced from China, are a writing system unique to Japan. With the addition of a touch of contemporary design sense, the character_mi symbol gives a sense of a world that transcends time and space, a world linking ancient China and Japan today. The source of our hiragana character_mi is the text of the Tale of Jōruri, a set of sixteenth-century picture scrolls. The calligrapher Kyuyo Ishikawa supervised its recreation.

Art directors: Kaoru Kasai and Tomohiko Nagakura (Sun-Ad Company, Ltd.)

The Tale of Jōruri (detail), Muromachi period, 16th century

Museum Color

Indigo-blue saké ewer, Edo period, 18th century

Indigo blue, a color with deep connections, seen in leading works in our collection, is our symbolic color. With that color as our base note, we developed our symbol and continue to develop a variety of communication tools.

2020 January

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2020 April

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2020 May

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2020 June

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2020 July

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2020 August

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2020 September

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2020 October

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2020 November

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2020 December

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