"The oldest things are the newest" – this paradoxical idea is present throughout the oeuvre of contemporary Japanese artist and photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. In 2008, Sugimoto and the architect Tomoyuki Sakakida founded the New Material Research Laboratory, an architectural firm that researches and develops “new materials” from known materials and techniques by applying a different approach and interpretation. The Laboratory's aim is to rethink the use of old materials passed on to us from ancient times, the Middle Ages and the modern period. It advocates for a reconnection of the present with a bygone era, and to extend that connection to the future through architecture.
Old Is New delves into the art and architecture, as well as the archaeological philosophy and contemporary practice, of the New Material Research Laboratory. Richly illustrated, the book shows the choice of materials for each project. The photographs in itself are compositions, presenting scenes that show a balance of the present and past. Sugimoto and Sakakida, discussing their practice and approach, wrote the principal texts of this volume. Additional text contributions delve into the origin of the laboratory’s design ethos rooted in Japanese tradition and aesthetics and their historical context. The book also includes an annotated index of materials and classical Japanese techniques with information drawn from the laboratory’s research.
“[...] this book is nothing short of an architectural manifesto — a new take on architecture in Japan and a potential way forward for architecture everywhere.”
“[...] a mandatory addition to any library.”
“Sugimoto and Sakakida describe in words how they use "techniques on the verge of being forgotten" and "materials that demand high levels of artisanal skill," while the photographs convey the results: carefully composed and controlled environments crafted from natural materials.”
With photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto
With contributions by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Tomoyuki Sakakida, New Material Research Laboratory
Design: Integral Lars Müller