Presented by Gallery MA, Japan’s most important architecture gallery, this exhibition was conceived around the theme of the number “twenty”.
Twenty was a special number for KDa, it being their twentieth year in Japan and 20 being the driving force of PechaKucha Night presentations of 20 slides in 20 seconds. It is also the number of years between the rebuilding of the shrine at Ise and most importantly, it represents ‘seijinshiki’ or ‘coming of age’ in Japan.
The exhibition occupied all of Gallery MA’s two floors and courtyard. The key to KDa’s design for the exhibition was their fascination with the things they find around them in Tokyo; materials, objects, and ideas that are often invisible to the Japanese.
The lower gallery was filled with the mobile ‘kanban’ signs found in the streets outside most of Tokyo’s bars. Topped with flashing lights and a big ‘this way’ arrow, the signs display back-lit photographs of KDa’s projects.
These signs were also used in the courtyard adjacent to the gallery, blurring the distinction between inside and outside and making the gallery space feel bigger. Here, one ‘kanban’ sign was been placed on top of a wall enclosing the courtyard – visible from the street below, it announced, “Klein Dytham, in here!”
In one fell swoop, sidewalk-quality back-lit signs solved the problem of how to continue the display out into the courtyard, as well as how to light the exhibition in the evening!
Most previous exhibitors filled the upstairs gallery with models- instead, but wanting to do something different KDa employed a 3D-printing technique usually used by the makers of inexpensive crystal souvenirs found at local tourist hotspots such as Tokyo Tower. Once again, showing KDa’s inspiration in exploring a vernacular invisible to most.
KDa took the largest crystal blocks that the manufacturer could deal with (12cm by 12cm), and had twenty of their projects modelled using the technique. The laser-produced models display incredible detail, and have a remarkable visual quality: when viewed from the side the models reveal perfect elevations; viewed from above they reveal the plan; and from any other angle they present X-ray views of and through whole buildings.
Displayed in a black painted room, the models were not static – lit from below, each was displayed on a slowly rotating turntable.
The models stood on four L-shaped walls that each formed the back of a comfortable seat covered in black shag-pile carpet. Here, i-Pod Touches were available on which visitors could listen to a recent lecture by Astrid and Mark and scan through a library of photos of KDa projects.