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A project that explores the many nuances of language

Nuances are perhaps the highest level of language. We rarely stop to consider how beautiful it is to understand the subtle shades of a phrase or word. Paying homage to these linguistic subtleties, Japanese studio Nendo designed a series of Rain Bottles.

The Japanese language has dozens of different words for the English word ‘rain’ – variations that depend upon conditions and the time of day. Displayed as part of the “Words” exhibition at Maison & Objet, each of the twenty clear, acrylic bottles visually represents one Japanese word for rain.

From afar, as with a superficial understanding, the bottles appear almost identical. It is upon closer examination that minute differences become apparent. These very small details, such as blades of grass, thin streams and thick droplets, depict different seasons and times of day.

“By exhibiting 20 different kinds of ‘rain’, we hoped to express Japanese culture’s unique relationship to nature and the depth of this relationship,” Nendo explains.

The “Words” exhibit, curated by Elizabeth Leriche, was part of the greater theme of “Sharing” and specifically addressed the return of the written word that has coincided with the rise of digital technology, while also examining it from a design perspective.