VAVA Kengo Kuma CL0012 Black

THE ARCHIVES SERIES 9

THE ARCHIVES SERIES 9

A LOOK BACK AT THE VAVA X KENGO KUMA CAPSULE COLLECTION

In 2021, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and VAVA teamed up to develop a capsule collection of sustainable 3D-printed eyewear inspired by Kuma’s vision of holistic masterpieces that perfectly coexist with the natural environment.

The VAVA x KENGO KUMA capsule collection manifests many of Kuma’s architectural imaginings, especially the architect’s tendency to recover and reinterpret the traditions of Japanese architecture to fit seamlessly into the 21st century.

Kengo Kuma’s work embodies transparency and lightness, which looks to the future while echoing older Japanese traditions. This collection reflects these aspects by combining ultra-lightweight sustainable materials and complex structures, resulting in VAVA’s most technologically advanced frames.

KENGO KUMA

Portrait of Kengo Kuma

Born in 1954, Kengo Kuma is a globally acclaimed Japanese Architect, University Professor, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo. He is one of the most significant Japanese figures in contemporary architecture, with offices in Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, and Paris. Some of his recent works include the Asakusa Culture and Tourism Centre in Tokyo and the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum. He was also one of the designers of the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo, one of the main venues of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Frequently compared to contemporaries Shigeru Ban and Kazuyo Sejima, Kuma is also noted for his prolific writings.

For Kengo Kuma, an architect should be humble and modest, which means every building or architectural design needs to consider its natural environment and the local culture. Each design should be fortified around where natural habitats and people coincide. His design philosophy also incorporates the tenet that architecture is alive and should be built around connecting people to each other, rather than created to serve as a memorial or monument. If buildings can make people feel happier and more prosperous, then this can have a positive ripple effect on those who may not reside directly in the building, but will still visit or pass by Kengo Kuma’s designs. Kuma’s designs are known around the world to be the centre of gravity in many locations that draw people together. 

Materials are crucial in fulfilling Kengo Kuma’s modest and humble design philosophy. When people are gathered together or participating in an event located inside a structure that is considered a modest design, one will be able to easily understand the different materials and components that make up the architecture, as they will portray and demonstrate its unique characteristics. Kengo Kuma’s designs are iconic and easily identifiable: they are known to reflect the Buddhist concept of non-self (in Hindu, it is referred to as ·anatta”) or the notion of humans coexisting with the environment.

RESPECT FOR THE CRAFTSMANSHIP

Kengo Kuma’s reinterpretation of traditional Japanese architectural elements for the 21st century has involved severe innovation in using natural materials and new ways of thinking about light and lightness. These concepts have resulted in architecture that enhances rather than dominates. The architect’s buildings do not attempt to fade into the surroundings through simple gestures. Instead, his designs attempt to manipulate traditional elements into a statement-making architecture, which still links in with the environment it is built around. High-tech remixes of traditional elements have proved popular across Japan and beyond, and Kuma’s recent works have expanded out of Japan to China and the West.

Kengo Kuma and Associates began their work in 1990. However, the crash of the Japanese economy in 1991 drove the firm out of Tokyo to work with local artisans and materials in the countryside. There, Kuma had the opportunity to learn about the vernacular techniques and the natural settings he proudly integrates into his architecture today.

AN EXPLORATION OF MATERIALS

Kuma has ample experience using key materials such as wood, bamboo, sheetrock, paper, glass, and bricks and working with all the different geographical elements, from water and air to light. Due to the findings of his research combined with many years of experience, K. Kuma has grasped how to create architectural masterpieces that perfectly coexist with the natural environments they reside in.

At the end of 2018, a significant milestone in Kuma’s career was the “Kengo Kuma: Park of Materials” exhibition in Taichung at the CMP Block Museum of Arts. The exhibition sprawled across both inside and outside locations, illuminating Kuma’s notion of modest design. His outdoor exhibitions have included over 30 projects that represent 30 years of his work with various materials including bamboo, wood, paper, dirt, rock, gold, metal, resin, fibre, glass, and more. These exhibits were used to explain how each individual material was used in every single one of his unique designs.

CASTOR BEAN SUSTAINABLE 3D PRINTING

Castor Beans

VAVA x Kengo Kuma presents a collection of 3D-printed frames using high-quality polyamide bio-based powder made from castor oil.

Our bio-based plastic is made from Rilsan® Invent by Arkema, a natural polyamide 11 fine powder derived from a 100% renewable source- castor beans. These beans are responsibly sourced from a cooperative of certified farmers in the Gujarat region of India, reflecting VAVA’s commitment to sustainability.

3D printing technology revolutionizes eyewear design by enabling the creation of complex frames with advanced functional and stylistic features, all while using the minimum amount of material for sustainability. High-tech materials form the backbone of this new conscious design approach, reflecting the importance of environmental responsibility in our 21st century world.

“When you enter architecture, you enter another world.”. VAVA’s passion and Kengo Kuma’s vision fused perfectly together, resulting in a dynamic capsule collection of numbered optical and sun frames.

The collaboration, designed using the face as a landscape, consists of four different models of optical and sun frames, developed in both Regular and Asian fits.

VAVA Kengo Kuma CL0012 GREEN
VAVA KENGO KUMA CIDORI
VAVA KENGO KUMA CIDORI

The design of the CL0012 originates from the Cidori design concept. Traditionally, the Cidori joint system allows wood planks to stay together without using nails or glue. Derived from old Japanese toys, Kengo Kuma applied the Chidori to build the CL0012 optical frame.

The CL0013 sunglass is a tribute to the traditional Japanese wooden building techniques. Kengo Kuma has explored these approaches for his wooden (or mixed) structures, which arise from a simple pattern of assembly built on different intersections and angles to generate a complex whole.

VAVA x Kengo Kuma CL0014 Red
VAVA x Kengo Kuma
VAVA x Kengo Kuma
VAVA x Kengo Kuma CL0014 CARIBOU

The Traditional Japanese wood weaving techniques inspire the CL0014 design. The weaving of bamboo or softwood, a common practice in many Asian regions, allows for constructing intricate patterns and forms. These techniques increase strength and flexibility while integrating structure and function. The weaving craft has long been applied in carpentry and furniture making and is being adopted in new styles of futuristic sustainable architecture.

Model CL0015, a sun frame, is inspired by the notion that the production of architecture is fundamentally a weaving process. Many of Kuma’s design projects are understood as pursuing different types of weaving of diverse materials.

VAVA X KENGO KUMA CL0015 SPRAY
VAVA X KENGO KUMA CL0015 AQUA HAZE

EXPLORE THE BOOKS

CREDITS

Campaign Photography . André Brito | andrebrito.com

Model . Du Jeong
Fashion Stylist Nelson Vieira | nelson-vieira.com
Make-up Stylist . Tinoca | @tinocamakeup
Hair Stylist . Edgar Venâncio | @edgarvenanciohairstylist

Still-Life Photography . Helder Bento | [email protected]

3D Digital Art . Girina Studio | girina.pt

Graphic Novel Illustration . André Lima Araújo | andrelimaaraujo.com
Colouring . Chris O’Halloran | chrisohart.com

Still-Life Illustrations . Vanda Balinha | [email protected]
Colouring . André Cunha | @dacugna

Creative Direction by VAVA

Special Thanks
THE Design | thedesign.pt

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