Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, partners in the Japanese firm Sanaa have just won the 2010 Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest award, in part for a simple stack of white boxes.
Of course when talking about art or commerce things are rarely as simple as they first appear.
Four projects were cited for the award including the New Museum in New York (shown at left), which the Times architectural critic Nicolai Ouroussoff glowingly calls,
“A mismatched stack of white boxes . . . that renews your faith in the city as a place where culture is lived, not just bought and sold.”
Art, architecture, and yes – even brand identity, have always been a struggle between the communicative forces of simplicity and decoration.
The Pritzker jury was very clear which side of this debate Sanaa comes down on. They said, “Sejima and Nishizawa’s architecture stands in direct contrast with the bombastic and rhetorical. Instead, they seek the essential qualities of architecture that result in a much appreciated straightforwardness, economy of means and restraint in their work.”
Certainly the Chanel, MacBook, Beatles, and Johnson & Johnson First Aid (by Harry Allen Design) boxes are straightforward and restrained, but filled with meaning.
Just like the New Museum.