Messages of an exhibition

Ursula Herrling-Tusch
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Showcase of Dominique Perrault's work in Tokyo

His meteoric rise began at the end of the 1980s with the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris when, aged just 36, Dominique Perrault won a prestigious international design competition sponsored by the then President of France, Francois Mitterrand. As the dominant style element he used metal mesh manufactured by GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG for the first time and developed the new architectural style of "wrapping" using the textile structure of this industrial material. With this minimalist design he immediately made an international name for himself. From then on metal mesh was to be a frequently used tool of his architectural vision to merge architecture with its environment. In various projects, including the Berlin Sports Centre for Cycling and Swimming, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and the Madrid Stadium, Perrault was constantly inspired to new interpretations in his work by the functionality and subtlety of woven metal membranes. In 2008 the Pompidou Centre in Paris awarded him a major exhibition for the first time. And just two years later the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery is following up on the success of the show in France. From 23 October to 26 December 2010 it will be displaying a cross-section of Dominique Perrault's work from the design of the French National Library up to the present day.

Understanding Perrault

Timed to coincide with the completion of the first Perrault project in Japan – the glass-dominated Fukoku Seimei office building in Osaka – this major exhibition of the work of the star French architect is due to open its doors in Tokyo this autumn. The venue for the show is the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, which since its opening has featured the work of contemporary artists from the worlds of painting, sculpture, photography, video, design, fashion and architecture. With stark minimalism the gallery will be presenting videos and models of Perrault's projects from the past 15 years in three themed areas. The exhibition focuses on his philosophy which emphasises the links between architecture and the natural environment as well as the process-based nature of design. From vision to sketches, models, materials, photographs and video impressions of finished objects, the dynamic process of creation is tracked and made physically accessible in his message. Twelve lengths of semi-transparent GKD Escale 7x1 metal mesh up to six metres in length hang as space dividers from the ceiling and visually separate the two areas. Fifty lampshades made from finely woven, pleated filtration mesh underline Perrault's creative involvement with stainless steel mesh. A glass, true-to-scale mockup of the Fokoku Tower creates the link with the present. The architecture of Perrault is brought to life in short films by Richard Copan on video screens.

Weaving inspiration

The National Library of France, with which Perrault began his journey to the top of his profession, forms the starting point of the exhibition. In addition, various other projects are displayed in which he has used metal mesh from the leading international weaving mill in Düren as a fundamental design element. Transparency and reflection, softness and purist strength of the textile skin both blur and accentuate Perrault's concept and have continuously inspired him to new interpretations in the interior and exterior design of his buildings.

Showcase of Dominique Perrault's work in Tokyo
Showcase of Dominique Perrault's work in Tokyo

A shimmering ceiling lining at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France was the first application where Dominique Perrault used metal mesh as a stylistic element. © GKD

Showcase of Dominique Perrault's work in Tokyo

The puristic appearance of the Caja Magica is suported by the semitransparent metal mesh facade. © GKD

Showcase of Dominique Perrault's work in Tokyo

The golden metall mesh facade of the two towers of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg make them a widely visible landmark of the judicial institution. © GKD

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