Tokujin Yoshioka’s glass tea house that extends the sensual experience of tea prepares for global tour.
For the past two and a half years, the Kou-An glass tea house by Japanese artist and designer Tokujin Yoshioka had been installed 220 meters above Kyoto city. Now closing on 10 September, it will then leave the observation deck of Shogunzunka Seiryunden Temple to travel inside and outside Japan.
With this project, Yoshioka traces the origin of Japan’s distinctive tea ceremony. The Japanese conception of nature is often characterised by its distinctive spatial perception that involves the sensory realisation of the surrounding atmosphere, often described as signs of energies or aura. This sensual appreciation of time and nature’s intrinsic beauties can be recognised in the Japanese tea ceremony practice.
Kou-An allows its visitors to perceive several sensations at once: The warmth, smell and taste of the tea, but also the weather, time of the day, season and the view. The borders between inside and outside disappear and the tea house and its visitors become one with nature.
Also in its details, Kou-An speaks to all the senses: The glass floor has a surface that recalls the ripples that spread out on a lake. And at some point in the afternoon, visitors can see a rainbow coming through a glass prism on the roof. This seems like a flower of light – and can be seen as a homage to the (real) flowers that traditional tea houses have.
Yoshioka has since childhood been influenced by Leonardo Da Vinci, and developed an interest in both art and science. His poetic design work emerges from giving figure to various human senses, using unmaterialistic elements – such as light, sound and smell – to create expressions that are unique, surpassing the concept of shape. In 2002 he began working on glass projects such as Water Block (2002), Transparent Japanese House (2002), and Chair (2002) that disappears in the rain. In 2015, this series was followed by Kou-An, the glass tea house.