Miya Shoji is a traditional Japanese carpentry workshop on 17th street in New York. Miya Shoji is built on the Japanese idea that that which is minimal and natural is the most beautiful. The company emphasises the functionality of the woodwork. If a design is good, it stays in use. If it is not good, it disappears. Design always appears with a necessity. If you need more light in your house, you cut the wall and add some window frame. If you feel cold sleeping on the ground, you make a bed and put your matrass on it.
I myself have always been interested in woodwork. When we were building up our new life, we encountered new necessities along the way. This opened up the possibility of working with wood again. Whenever we needed something, I tried to build it in the most functional yet elegant way.
While the outside is getting colder and colder, the sky turning washed out grey, my mind drifts to warmer places. My new subject is desert animals. The first one, a meerkat is just finished. A dromedary, a fennec fox, a jerboa and a Cape ground squirrel will follow. They are all part of the new series Flat Animals, soon to be followed by Fat Animals.
The desert is a harsh place to live. It lacks water and vegetation and the heat is unrelenting. No wonder desert animals stay so thin. But they are smart. They survive. All of them adapted to their unforgiving environment. The meerkat has dark circles around his eyes to prevent the sun from reflecting in them. The hump of the dromedary stores fat, which can be used both as food and water source. The big ears of the fennec fox are loaded with blood vessels, allowing him to quickly release body heat. The jerboa doesn’t need to drink water at all. He is able to extract enough liquids from its foods. Although he is tiny, bigger animals have a hard time catching him. He can hop faster than a person can run. The Cape ground squirrel takes shade with him wherever he goes. His fluffy tail acts as his private parasol.
What do you do when you are over nine months pregnant and you wake up morning after morning confronted with your sons decision to stay in the womb just a little longer? You start making him animals. An old green sweater you used to wear in high school, but never got thrown out because the color was so nice, turns into a parrot. Your favorite lucky blazer you’ve grown out of becomes a little zebra waiting for his herd. Slowly the whole blazer is cut to pieces, sown back together again and filled with stuffing. You make a whale bigger than a newborn baby, an elephant with crooked ears and a tapir looking for food. And then, finally, thirteen days late, your son is born and you have to wait again. Because it will take at least another six months for him to be interested in the animals you made.