‘Ma’ is also one of the best words to describe the work of Japanese design office Nendo: a group of modest, down-to-earth but extremely talented designers, headed by founder Oki Sato. In barely 10 years of work Nendo has become one of the most prolific studios in the world – without ever compromising on quality.

Nendo always finds time to experiment with projects that simply matter to them. They worked on the development of a ceramic speaker, for instance, as a contribution to the Revalue Nippon Project launched by former Japan footballer Nakata Hidetoshi to revitalise the traditional crafts in Japan.

“Ceramic substrate has a high heat resistance, so it is often used for LED bulbs and other heat-emitting internal components and rarely exposed to human eyes,” Nendo explains.

“Its computer-controlled manufacture involves shaving thin slices from thicker ceramic slabs, fixing them with mercury vapour and mounting all components with a robot arm; human hands touch no part of the process. As the substrate is exposed to sight, its function-optimised surface takes on a new decorative role. This reminds us both of the limits of the human hand, and of its infinite, unshakeable attraction, providing a glimpse into the future of craft.”

Curve Issue thirty-six, 2011 ‘Look out for ‘!’’ by Laura Traldi

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