Kensaku Oshiro (designer)
Patrick Reymond (architect, atelier oï) The uniqueness and possibilities of RAYCREA

Kensaku Oshiro was born in Okinawa prefecture in 1977. After graduating from the Scuola Politecnica di Design Milano in 1999 he worked for Lissoni Associati and Barber Osgerby. In 2015, he established his own studio, Kensaku Oshiro, in Milan. He has worked with Italian furniture makers including Boffi, De Padova, Kristalia, Ligne Roset, Poltrona Frau and Zanotta, as well as releasing furniture with Arflex Japan.
Photo by Yukikazu Ito.

Light is not a substance, making its presentation a challenge for designers

When the Milan-based designer Kensaku Oshiro visited Nitto’s “Search for Light” exhibition at Milan Design Week, what were his impressions of RAYCREA? Oshiro studied design at the Polytechnic University of Milan's graduate school, before working as a designer for leading Italian designer Piero Lissoni and British design unit Barber Osgerby. Oshiro went on to establish his own studio in 2015 and currently works with some of Italy's leading furniture makers. He is also working on projects in Japan and a growing number of locations.

"To be honest, I couldn't understand how it worked at first. I saw the expressions produced by RAYCREA, but couldn't get my head around it… I thought that the film itself was connected to a power supply and emitted light on its own, but upon hearing the explanation, I realized that the film actually changes the direction of light. Once I understood that, I felt that the idea and the technology have great potential. The film can provide illumination without showing the light source, and it can also be transparent. These features allow it to produce some interesting effects.”

Poltrona Frau's new Sparkler outdoor lighting was released at Milan Design Week in 2021. The lighting comes in three sizes: two floor lamps and a small-scale table lamp. They are made from a lightweight powder-coated aluminum frame upon which polypropylene rope is handwoven, and can be placed on the floor or hung from the ceiling. The LED light comes with an 8W lithium battery that can be recharged via USB connection. The light and the shadows it creates have been carefully designed.
Courtesy of Poltrona Frau.

When asked what kind of products he’d like to design with RAYCREA, Oshiro laughs. "I need to consider it a bit more; it's still hard to imagine," he replies. "The fact that it can be used on a large surface makes it well suited to architecture." Oshiro has been working on a marine education facility on Yoron Island in 2021. Approaching architecture from a product designer's perspective, he's been devising ideas such as a water-based cooling system.

“RAYCREA is a new material, which means we need to explore the lighting effects and their possibilities. It's a one-of-a-kind material with innovative expressions not seen in other materials. Combining it with materials such as glass and mirrors will be sure to produce some interesting effects.”

In 2021, Oshiro also launched Sparkler, an outdoor lantern produced by Italian furniture maker Poltrona Frau. Powered by an LED light, the portable lantern comes in three sizes.

Kensaku Oshiro at the exhibition. Oshiro shared some ideas with Nitto's development manager and asked about their feasibility. His ideas varied from the expressions presented at the venue and may potentially take shape in the future.

“Light is not a substance. That’s why designers need to consider how to show its presence. At the studio where I used to work, I was involved in a wide range of projects, such as developing lighting objects and architectural lighting with major manufacturers. We had the experience of shifting from incandescent globes to LED light sources. It was difficult to get used to this change, but it's now possible to create expressions aligned with their characteristics. Overcoming the sense of discomfort that comes with new technology and taking advantage of its features may be the key to designing with RAYCREA. I feel that changing the angle of the light creates a lot of possibilities. Additionally, the film has a high degree of flexibility. The technology is there, so you can fuse it together with design. By doing so, new lighting expressions can be created.”

atelier oï was founded in 1991 by Aurel Aebi (left), Armand Louis (center) and Patrick Reymond (right). The studio's design work spans the fields of architecture, furniture and products. Clients include leading brands such as Artemide, Fendi, Foscarini, Louis Vuitton, Rimowa, Alias and USM Modular Furniture.
Courtesy of atelier oï.

Drawing attention to the possibilities of sustainability

Another visitor to the exhibition in Milan was Patrick Reymond from atelier oï, based in La Neuveville, Switzerland. His architectural design studio has designed furniture for Louis Vuitton and worked with leading furniture makers exhibiting at Salone del Mobile. As one of the studio's three founders, Patrick leads the studio and also works as a designer. Having worked on numerous projects in Japan, what were his impressions of RAYCREA?

Jewelry factory designed by atelier oï. The concrete facade expresses the image of glittering jewels. In summer the facade softens the sun's rays, while in winter it harnesses the sun’s energy. Patrick noted that RAYCREA can be used to create interesting architectural expressions.
Photo by Yves André.

“Firstly, I felt the beauty of light. It reminded me of the works of two of our favorite contemporary artists, Olafur Eliasson and James Turrell. I’m familiar with Nitto and have also visited their factory in Toyohashi,” says Patrick. More than anything, he sensed RAYCREA’s “potential in relation to sustainability”.

"At the moment, regardless of the kind of project, it’s important that you address sustainability. Looking at RAYCREA, I felt that if we are able to take a point light source and turn it into a surface light, we can reduce the energy used to produce that light. There are so many other possibilities. By attaching the film to a window, it can allow sunlight through during the day, then provide illumination at night. It would be interesting to link that to a building's activity. There's also the potential to create products or use the technology everywhere from parks to signage and installations.”

Sculptural lighting, inspired by a large bell, previously released by atelier oï in Milan. The aluminum rods rub against one another, producing sounds through vibration. The light and shadow combine to create a lively atmosphere.
Courtesy of atelier oï.

When Patrick saw RAYCREA, it brought back memories of some of his unrealized projects. One was an experiment in reproducing natural light in a shaded space with no windows, which despite being possible in theory, was unable to be realized due to the lack of a suitable material. Another such project was a staircase with a handrail wall that lit up according to people's movements. In these cases, RAYCREA may well have played a role in turning ideas into reality.

“Light is one of the key elements of atelier oï-designed spaces. You could say that light is rooted in our way of life. Our designs are heavily influenced by elements from the natural world, as well as Japanese culture. We believe that the greatest feature of Japanese culture is that it's constantly changing. Nature's influence is a fundamental part of that philosophy. For example, if you use light well, people's movements create shadows, allowing their movements to be visualized. I feel that RAYCREA has the potential to create such effects. It could also be used to create a window of light within a windowless space.”

Patrick is considering the possibilities of incorporating RAYCREA into some of his current projects. And with the technology now undergoing final adjustments, it may not be long before RAYCREA is seen in the architecture of atelier oï.