The Invisibles

An interview with designer Tokujin Yoshioka about his current riotous installation at Kartell's Milan flagship


In the design world, Tokujin Yoshioka stands as one of the purest interpreters of shapes and materials. His experiments with small objects and wide spaces beautifully translate what we see to what we feel. In his hands the most humble materials become pure wonder, like his chair for Moroso or his plastic sofa for Driade.

This year at Salone Yoshioka presents the “The Invisibles” project, a collaboration with Kartell consisting of a special collection and an incredible installation at their Milan flagship store. We met Yoshioka at the space, surrounded by his incredible transparent plastic stick installation “Snowflake,” to get the low-down on his latest work.

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Design is made of visible and solid things. How did you manage to work on the concept of invisibility?

When I started working on this project, Kartell asked me to design something completely transparent. We began from one of my prototypes, that was made of glass. We had to work hard to find the right technical solutions. At the end of the day, we both wanted something that makes people look like they are suspended, like sitting on air.

Also, the idea of the installation here at the flagship store came out like this—I wanted to create a very complex and intricate pattern, where the objects are hidden. You don’t notice them immediately, you have to discover them and they come out like a surprise.

This year Kartell is working on both invisibility and the color black. Is there a contradiction between darkness and transparencies?

I haven’t seen the installation “Welcome Black,” but I can say that there’s no complete difference between what’s transparent and what’s dark. These are all elements present in nature. Every object has a shadow, even if it’s completely transparent.


Do your shapes come together with the materials? Do the materials suggest a specific shape?

I’m not very interested in shapes themselves, I always begin from the materials. When I choose one I work on it and the form of the final object, the final aesthetic emerges spontaneously. At this phase, I don’t know if the final result is going to recall nature or be minimalistic and geometric.