Skip to Main Content

Japan House Designing the Future symposium (October 25, 2018)01:56:56

Hitoshi Abe welcomes the audience to an exploration, sponsored by Japan House Los Angeles & SCI-Arc, of what “the future” might mean in the context of the present. He introduces the first speaker, Liam Young.

At 5:26, Liam Young presents clips from narrative and documentary videos, providing a running commentary that alternately describes specific images and identifies general themes, including productive dystopias, technological solutionism, lithium mining in Chile and Bolivia, the dreamlife of render farm workers, intelligent habitations, intelligent objects, and “augmented and A.I.-everything.” He proposes that they all derive from a belief that the future is not something that washes over us, but something we must actively shape and define for ourselves.

At 24:13, Peter Frankfurt discusses Imaginary Forces, noting that since forming as a design production company in 1996 “the world has changed three or four times,” and that the challenge is really to try to keep up, as “the future is designing us.” He demonstrates the rate of change with a clip from “Minority Report” (2002), in which their vision of a gestural interface has gone from impossible to taken for granted. He stresses story-telling as the core of their work, as demonstrated in a brand campaign video for HBO, and a logo animation exploration of Luminous Productions.

At 41:38, Sou Fujimoto proposes a “primitive future,” fusing nature and culture, rural and urban. He reviews several projects in terms of these themes, including …
• Primitive Future House (2001)
• House NA, Tokyo (2011)
• Serpentine Gallery Pavilion (2013)
• Public toilet, Ichihara (2013)
• House N, Oita (2008)
• Musashino University museum and library (2010)
• Learning center for the University of St. Gallen (2022) order and chaos,
• Residential tower, Montpellier (2019)
• The Souk Mirage project
• Residential tower, Nice (2021)
• And two, recently announced mixed-use projects in Paris: Vertical Village and Mille Arbres

At 1:04:39, Hitoshi Abe, Liam Young, Peter Frankfurt, and Sou Fujimoto debate some of the issues raised by the presentations, including types of futures, the future-focus of architectural practice, consumer technology, the future as a sales tool, story-telling, creating options and choices, utopias of the imagination. The participants some of their own future projects.

At 1:34:58, the participants respond to comments from the audience on the urban/rural opposition, unforeseen circumstances, novel forms of production, working with restrictions, narratives, demystification, sustainability, digital revolution, and complexity.