Since 2008 Olivia Shih and Yoshihito Kashiwagi have continued to design outstanding interiors. They are this year’s very deserving recipients of the Emerging Designer award. Below is an excerpt of their interview with Inside magazine editor Alexa Kempton.
Q: You both have experience working internationally Yoshi with Renzo Piano in Italy and Establish Habitat in Japan; Olivia with Lin & Associates and Huang & Associates in Taiwan. How has your international experience shaped your own practice?
A: We believe there are two aspects to architecture: the site-specific and the universal. Site-specific aspects are influenced by local regulations, culture and trends, whereas universal aspects involve fundamental issues, such as the nature of man and architecture. The latter is also about a wider cross-section of people not just the immediate client.
The experience of working internationally exposed us to people from different cultures and helped us learn more about the universal aspects of architecture. It reminds us to consider ideas from both micro and macro points of view, which is very relevant to how we define the practice of design, and the way we question how our work impacts the wider population.
Q: How would you describe your design philosophy, and what is the design process in your studio?
A: Our motto is to produce ‘meaningful design’ rather than strive for visual appeal, which we perceive as having less meaning. Our process involves analysing and sorting the design requirements into a hierarchical order, and then expressing this order architecturally. By carefully organising and prioritising the client’s sense of value, budget, timeframe, construction technology, craftsmanship and site issues, the characteristics of the project become apparent. As we repeat this process, the design becomes progressively distilled until one single element remains. This element is the pure form that, we believe, will engage a wide range of people.