Tadao Ando: ‘We need an unbreakable passion to survive an unknown future’

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My personal style signifier is a black stand-up collar jacket by Issey Miyake. Mr. Miyake has a cohesive philosophy that permeates his fashion, personality and lifestyle. Her designs are not only masterful but embrace a productive sense of tension. I treat this garment as my armor to enter the battlefield of architecture.

The last thing I bought and loved was a monograph by Le Corbusier, Complete Work Volume 6: 1952-1957. This edition highlights projects such as the start of Chandigarh and the completion of Notre-Dame du Haut – the chapel of Ronchamp. As humans, we lose our speed and energy as our minds and bodies age. However, in his mid-forties, Le Corbusier mainly developed as an architect. His work accelerated both in production and in innovation.

Work by Damien Hirst hanging in Ando’s studio © Yasuyuki Takagi

The place I can’t wait to return it’s Paris. I can’t wait to visit the Hotel d’Angleterre as I have stayed there since the start of my career. And I can’t wait to stroll through the Galerie de la Bourse de Commerce, which I designed, now that it opens. I am delighted to see the spectacular restoration of frescoes as well as specially commissioned artwork for the space.

An indulgence that I would never give up it’s being able to live and walk on my own two feet. In the past 10 years, I have had two major surgeries to remove five of my organs, including my pancreas. I am so happy to be able to continue working.

An exterior view of Ando's studio in Osaka
An exterior view of Ando’s studio in Osaka © Yasuyuki Takagi
A radio by the Italian architect and designer Marco Zanuso

A radio by the Italian architect and designer Marco Zanuso © Yasuyuki Takagi

The best book I read this year is Botchan by Natsume Soseki, who in her beauty and depth is the origin of modern Japanese literature. I picked it up this year for the first time in decades. It encapsulates the spirit of humanity and like all great literature offers varying interpretations depending on what stage of life you are in when reading it.

Ando's favorite read from last year: 'Botchan' by Natsume Soseki

Ando’s favorite read from last year: ‘Botchan’ by Natsume Soseki

In my fridge you will always find free space. I have toast and English tea for breakfast first. After that, there are a number of great restaurants in the Umeda area of ​​Osaka, where I live. I like a simple udon at one of the bars near my studio. I’m not particularly picky, and while I’m fine with any food, I like to eat fast and prefer it to be healthy. I have coffee or tea with my lunch – I drink a few cups throughout the day – and I never drink alcohol.

The work of art that changed everything is the collective work produced by the Gutai Group of Japan. They were extraordinarily prolific artists in the mid-20th century and were important influences in my life. From them, I learned the importance of radically thinking about things from their origins and materiality.

Ando collects Ice-Watches and fountain pens

Ando collects Ice-Watches and fountain pens

His typewriter by Ettore Sottsass

His typewriter by Ettore Sottsass © Yasuyuki Takagi (2)

I have a collection of fountain pens, many of which I have received as gifts over the years. I don’t necessarily have as much of an interest in the act of collecting as I like that the objects designed are simple, sturdy and balance cost, aesthetics and functionality. My favorite is a red Montblanc fountain pen designed by Marc Newson. An ingenious magnetic mechanism allows the pen and cap logo to line up perfectly when closed. I also have what is almost equivalent to a collection of Ice-Watches in different colors. I rotate them depending on the day.

The best gift I have given recently That’s when I designed and funded the Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest, which opened last summer. I see this library as a gift from the adults to the children of Osaka.

Château La Coste rosé, offered to Ando by Paddy McKillen

Château La Coste rosé, offered to Ando by Paddy McKillen © Yasuyuki Takagi

And the best gift I received recently is a bottle of rosé from Château La Coste. It was from my client and friend, Paddy McKillen. Its pale amber color seems to reflect the spirit of the architecture on which we have collaborated together. Every time I see the bottle, I think back to the wonderful memories of working alongside it in the South of France and in London.

The design that intrigues me the most is it hidden in everything we usually use in our daily life. A great master architect, Seiichi Shirai, once said that he found beauty in the ordinary design, shape and color of tofu, a daily staple of the Japanese people.

My favorite sight in the world is cherry blossom trees lining the Dojima River in Nakanoshima, a large body of water that runs through the middle of Osaka. About 6,000 trees bloom in unison on a 7.5 km long stretch of river. This natural spectacle was created by extending the original tree-lined path of less than a kilometer. I started a tree planting initiative over 15 years ago to beautify the region. My hope was to create a new urban axis in Osaka using the power of nature. It is a pleasure to see the results of this work each spring.

Ando's studio in Osaka
Ando’s studio in Osaka © Yasuyuki Takagi
Ando in his studio

Ando in his studio © Yasuyuki Takagi

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a black raincoat from Mackintosh in London. I like its lightness and comfort, and it works well for travel. £995

The last music I downloaded was a song Bono recorded just for the Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest. He sang it beautifully, improvising the lyrics and melody on the spot. I recently added it to my playlist, but it hasn’t been released to the public.

An object that I will never part with is a typewriter designed by Ettore Sottsass that I found 50 years ago when I started my practice. I’ve wanted it since I was 20, and in my 30s, I was finally able to get my hands on it. This object is inextricably linked to my memories of my early career, when I ran headfirst into an unpredictable future.

My favorite room is my studio, which is close to where I live and where I spend most of my days. I feel most at home when I work. This quadruple space, filled with light and books, gives me great energy.

A boxing glove signed by heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and given to Ando

A boxing glove signed by heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and given to Ando

The last thing Ando bought and loved: a Le Corbusier monograph

The last thing Ando bought and loved: a Le Corbusier monograph © Yasuyuki Takagi (2)

A portrait of Ando by Saori Zelnik

A portrait of Ando by Saori Zelnik © Yasuyuki Takagi

Right now I’m planning a large national art museum in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. I am also working on a modest seaside gallery of less than 20 m2 next to a Japanese provincial town. It motivates me to undertake such different projects simultaneously.

A recent discovery is uncertainty. I thought about the fact that none of us have a clue of what’s going to happen in the future. A year ago, I couldn’t imagine the world would change so much because of this pandemic. We need an unbreakable passion to survive an unknown future.

If I didn’t do what I do I would be a designer or craftsman in another field. When I was younger I entered the world of contemporary sculpture and product design, but I also remember having a passion to watch the carpenter’s daily progress in renovating the wooden house in which I lived. I think I was always going to be involved in the business of creating things.

My favorite architectural site is the Manhattan skyline, one of the great masterpieces of the 20th century. If I had to reduce it even more I would say the art deco skyscrapers, especially the Chrysler Building.

The only artist whose work I would collect if I could is the work of Pablo Picasso. He explored the malleable possibilities of formal expression and laid the foundations for the contemporary art world. It would be wonderful to bring all of his creations together in one place to see his complete work.



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