(Shizuoka, Japan)()(Studio Visit)2023-07-11

Studio Visit with Yuki Tsuji

We visit an ancient Samurai's house in Shizuoka to discuss the work of the architect and floral installation designer and Ikebana master, Yuki Tsuji

Starting his career in Architecture, Yuki Tsuji found inspiration in the work of Spanish architect Gaudi and how he approached architecture from a position of the ability to integrate nature from a child's perspective. Later learning more about the ancient Japanese craft and philosophy of Ikebana, Yuki-san's practice developed into a multidisciplinary studio working between architecture, ikebana, floral installations and retail. We visit him at a centuries-old Samurai estate where he is in the midst of setting up a conceptual florist to discuss his practice and way of life, which he hypnotically told in such a considered and poetic way.

Kristen de la Vallière_ Can you please introduce yourself and what you do, Yuki?
クリステン・デ・ラ・ヴァリエール_ まずは自己紹介をお願いします。

Yuki Tsuji_ My name is Yuki Tsuji, and I am an Ikebana flower arrangement artist. I am engaged in various activities across the domain of spatial art connecting the ancient Japanese culture of Ikebana with contemporary life.

Ikebana is like a child of Japanese architecture. In addition, there is a Tokonoma (alcove) in the Japanese-style room, one corner of the room is used as a gallery, where flowers are arranged according to the seasons. Ikebana is also an expression of prayer. For example, summer in Japan is hot and humid, which causes many fungi to breed and epidemics to spread frequently. Since ancient times, Japanese culture has strongly believed that plants have the ability to ward off evil spirits.

辻雄貴_ 華道家の辻雄貴と申します。いけばなという日本古来の文化を現代と接続する空間芸術を念頭にさまざまな活動をしています。




What is the history and origins of Ikebana?

The syncretisation of Shinto and Buddhism gave rise to the idea of Ikebana. In Japan, there is a sense of value that God exists in everything. It is based on the idea that there are many different kinds of life in nature, just as there are many kinds of plants in each season. The belief that plants and humans exist in the same natural world is said to be the source of Ikebana. Ikebana is an art created by combining human imagination and the vitality of plants.


How did you become a flower arrangement artist after majoring in architecture as a student?

I am greatly influenced by Gaudi. Seeing his architecture, which captures nature with a child's outlook, inspired him to become an architect. When I was thinking about how to create a space using nature like him, as a Japanese person, I realised that the space using nature is used in Karesansui and gardens. I noticed. This is how I got to Ikebana.



Yuki Tsuji

What are your recent projects?

Fugetsuro is a project that I have been working on for over a year, and I am designing architecture and gardens based in the spirit of flower arrangement. Mt. Fuji is in Shizuoka, and I think it is the place with the most natural power in Japan. And the place where the source of life gathers from the mountain is the pond in the garden of Fugetsuro. There are three buildings around the pond, and we are renovating one of the buildings with an architectural design concept that blends the old and the new.


The 20th century saw an increase in the number of architectural projects, along with the evolution of technology to create them. That's why I made the concept that the building returns to the garden. Ikebana is an abstract art that combines human imagination and the vitality of nature. I would like to combine this idea with the abstract shapes of mountain landscapes to create a design that utilises natural materials.

And here, based on the keyword "Ikebana", we are trying to create a new type of flower shop that has never been seen before, where Japanese craftsmanship is gathered and operated by a group of craftsmen. From young to veteran artists, dyeing craftsmen, graphic designers, photographers, and other creators of various genres, we would like to work together to create art that is born out of harmony with nature.


Recently, along with performing arts such as Kabuki and Noh, I am also focusing on creating works and scenography created utilising nature. I think that the Japanese worldview can be conveyed by seeing Kabuki and Noh performances and their scenography, so I would like people from overseas to see and experience it.


What kind of services will be offered in Fugetsuro?

We plan to sell products and sculptures inspired by flowers, bonsai, and fresh flowers. Even a single type of flower can be divided into hundreds, and I would like to collect and sell the most powerful flowers among them. We are also planning events and Ikebana workshops. The first installation is scheduled for this autumn.


This is a flower vase made of cypress. The structure is designed so that the parts can be disassembled, and this is inspired by traditional Japanese architectural techniques. The structures can be dismantled one by one so that Japanese architecture can also be moved. This will be on sale on our website, so you can buy it.



What was the project you did with Cartier?

Cartier was a project where we wanted to showcase contemporary Japanese culture to audiences overseas. What is happening here in Japan now. The concept was to create a Japanese forest with Ikebana. Forests in Japan cannot grow unless humans take care of them properly. In order to convey that, I used beautiful Japanese bamboo as a material to express that idea.


The project with Armani made use of bamboo chips obtained from abandoned bamboo forests. The concept of this work is to use bamboo and resin to confine life. From the beginning to the end of every project, I try to select materials with the Japanese mountains in mind. I believe that solving nature's problems will result in beautiful art.


The above images are from Yuki Tsuji's Ikebana installations for Cartier | Images courtesy of Yuki Tsuji
The above images are from Yuki Tsuji's Ikebana installations for Cartier | Images courtesy of Yuki Tsuji

What is the relationship between Japanese architecture and gardens?

In Japanese architecture, there is the word, Iori (retreat). This is a word that describes a tea room, and it expresses the idea that there are long, thin leaves that can be tied together to create a building and then unwound to turn them into soil. Therefore, the garden is originally at the centre of architecture, and architecture is completed with the help of nature, so I believe that architecture is centred on the garden.

When I think about the design, I associate characteristics such as vegetation from the garden and consider what kind of architecture works well with it. I think about design from the perspective of what would please nature, in a way, not what I want to make.



Why do you think Japanese architecture puts less value on older buildings compared to the way we view older architectural structures in Western societies?

In the past, Japanese people had a sense of value that captured the beauty of withered flowers, but this is rapidly disappearing. This may be the cause of the loss of the culture of cherishing old buildings.


What is your dream project?

I would like to use the Ikebana philosophy to create an art museum that addresses the problems of developing countries. There is a way of thinking that fresh flowers revive and give life. I would like to do a project in a developing country coming from this way of thinking, this philosophy to see if it could create new types of solutions to social problems.



Yuki Tsuji

Yuki Tsuji's Cypres Flower Vase featuring Ikebana installation | Photo courtesy of Yuki Tsuzuki
Yuki Tsuji's Cypres Flower Vase featuring Ikebana installation | Photo courtesy of Yuki Tsuzuki
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