The Power of Curiosity: a message from 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT Overall Director Taku Satoh

2020年4月30日 09:0021_21 DESIGN SIGHT,デザイン,佐藤 卓

Firstly, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to those affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and their families, and my deepest gratitude to the healthcare workers for your tremendous efforts.

Since 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT opened in 2007, we have been holding exhibitions that explore the possibilities of design, in a light-filled space designed by Tadao Ando. We began with chocolate and moved through an array of topics from water to human, bones, rice, art, architecture, civil engineering, wild, vessels, sundries, folk crafts and insects. The reason for this diversity is that design is vital to all aspects of the way we live. It is precisely the application of design concepts to all phenomena that has brought us to reflect on the nature of design. This initiative has continued largely because of the power of curiosity for that which cannot be expressed in words.

21_21 DESIGN SIGHT was established by a group of amateurs with no prior experience running museums or design institutions, so it was a matter of feeling our way around, of trial and error. Perhaps that is why this venue has such a unique character. Moreover, ever since the time of preparing to open, we have held regular directors' meetings. This is where the themes of upcoming exhibitions are considered. These are quite small meetings involving 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT founder Issey Miyake, directors Naoto Fukasawa and myself, as well as associate director Noriko Kawakami and staff. These meetings are exciting and stimulating events. I would like to take this rare opportunity to go behind the scenes.

In all of our meetings, speakers roam in all directions, regardless of the kind of work they are doing. It sends the synapses of the mind into overdrive. In this meeting of minds, no topic is off the table, be it environmental issues, the economy, a hot artist, health, human psychology, the latest technology, play, education or welfare. Nobody knows where the conversation will lead. It makes the head spin. At the end, we go off topic and enjoy updating each other on what has been happening. Often before we know it, an hour has disappeared.
However, this time is precious. This freewheeling exchange, in which we leave our professional positions to one side, leads to exciting new ideas. One idea often triggers another. Nobody tries to strongarm others over to their point of view. It is an exchange of opinions held with the greatest of mutual respect - a rhythmical and pleasant gathering. And if there are a number of options for topics, it is left to ferment until the next meeting. After a time, they are compared with new topics and a choice is made from the naturally forthcoming ideas. It is always an intuitive process.
This kind of forum is something I have only seen here, even though I am an experienced person. It is like walking into the unknown, without any footprints to follow. It feels like an adventure through the forest where nobody knows what will happen next and we are just following our instincts. That is why it is so exciting. However, every one of us shares the faith that an idea is a good one, even if there are no guarantees. Illuminated by our ideas, it is in these very face-to-face meetings that generate our ideas. The situation in which we find ourselves today has ironically driven home to me their true value.

The unique character of 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT perhaps lies in the fact that rather than raising logic and rationality on a pedestal as in modern world, this is a rare organization where intuition reigns. That is because curiosity is essentially an emotion stimulated by the senses. Here at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, I hope that we continue in future to honor the value of intuition that is in all of us.

The future is far from clear, but we will continue to explore what we can offer society as we take stock of what we can learn from this difficult experience. Thank you for your ongoing support of 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT.

Taku Satoh
Overall Director, 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT