Surround Sound: A Multi-Sensory Installation by Japan Stadium Architect Kengo Kuma is a Highlight at Milan Design Week - Lifestyle Asia

Done in partnership with OPPO, Kuma’s Bamboo (竹) Ring :|| Weaving a Symphony of Lightness and Form is on display at the Cortile dei Bagni in Milan.

Kengo Kuma, in partnership with tech company OPPO, has created an attention grabbing courtyard centerpiece for Milan Design Week. Called “Bamboo (竹) Ring :|| Weaving a Symphony of Lightness and Form,” the multi-sensory installation is on display at the Cortile dei Bagni until the Italian event’s end on September 19.

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Kuma, who is a professor under the Department of Architecture at the University of Tokyo, designed the Japan National Stadium. The venue was used for the recently concluded 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Rings and rhythm

For the Milan installation, the Japanese architect was inspired by the theme of “creative connections.” He fused design with music, innovation, technological prowess, and user experience to create a sense of time and space.

“When I design architecture, I’m interested in designing the rhythm and the tone rather than the silhouette, and contemporary music gives us many lessons about how to create new rhythms and tones in architecture,” Kuma says.

This landmark project is an evolution of a previous collaboration between Kuma and Oppo, the Bamboo Ring exhibition, which debuted at the 2019 edition of the London Design Festival. It explored the harmonious relationship between humans and nature through the envisioning of lightweight yet strong structures made with bamboo and carbon fiber.

“OPPO is a human-centric brand, our focus is on innovating for the people. We are delighted to partner with Kengo Kuma again, an architect who is known for seamlessly integrating nature and culture,” says Jintong Zhu, head of the brand’s London Design Centre.

Musical design

This year’s experiential installation uses pioneering technology to engage all the senses through a series of orchestral scores composed by Japanese violinist Midori Komachi with Musicity.

The composition is based on the cycle of seasons and moves through the structure encouraging the public to walk around and be captured by its aural narrative. The changing soundscapes integrate the sound of Midori’s violin, which was built in Milan in 1920 and enhanced with carbon fiber itself, from OPPO’s O Relax. This is a digital wellbeing application that offers comforting nature and city sounds to relax your mind taken from locations around the globe including Reykjavik, Beijing, and Tokyo. 

“This pavilion is one of the explorations into the new rhythms and tones in architecture combining visual and acoustic experiences of the visitors,” Kuma adds.

The installation’s woven structure—crafted from rings of bamboo and carbon fiber—becomes a musical instrument as music travels through it via structural sound technologies originating from OPPO London Design Centre’s research.

Technology including new haptic motors, MEMS speaker strips, and exciters work together to produce an immersive base and higher frequencies which reverberate the bamboo with Violin’s vibrato and the effect of a percussion instrument.

After Milan Design Week, Bamboo Ring will be donated to Arte Sella Park in Trentino, Italy. The installation’s future home is a contemporary art museum with outdoor exhibits made from natural materials and backdropped by the mountainous Sella Valley.

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