Several years ago, when Rem Koolhaas became one of the most talked about architects, I had the rare opportunity not only to visit one of the houses he designed, but also to stay there for a few days while in Paris. The house called Villa dall’Ava, which was completed in 1991, had received worldwide attention in the architecture world.
I had first seen Rem Koolhaas’s work (it was an architecture model) at MOMA in the early ’90s, right around the time the distinguished Japanese architect Tadao Ando had his major exhibition at the museum. Ando back then was considered to be one of the ten most important architects in the word, and Koolhaas was still on the rise. However, although I don’t remember much about Ando’s exhibition at MOMA, I can still clearly visualize the architecture model by Koolhaas in my mind.
Generally, for Japanese, precision craftsmanship means average in skill, and the architecture model I had seen at MOMA was almost sacrilege in that respect. Everything was out of alignment and irregular, hardly anything was straight. I couldn’t understand how someone could make something with such a lack of precision… and had wondered how the actual architecture would look like, especially the details of it.
An architecture model is neither a sculpture nor a painting – it is merely a tool to examine the design and get some degree of understanding of how the actual architecture will look. Much against my expectation, Villa Dall’Ava turned out to be an architectural gem. There was a strange harmony of strength and fragility. To tell the truth, I was disappointed not to find any sign of “sacrilege” there. However there was something convincing and persuasive about the design… the house was whispering in my ear, “Imperfection is beautiful.” The house felt like it has its own life. It was cold but warm, heavy but light, filled with intimate contrasts which I’ve never found in Tadao Ando’s architectures.
This is, of course, not to say imperfection would necessarily add a human touch to a work of art, but after having used my hands to create art for many years, I have finally realized that a work with impeccable finish often lacked the warmth of human ki (qi or 気).
The video below was added to this post in May, 2008.
Like many young Japanese men in the ’80s I loved Ferrari. I still remember the the mind-blowing, shivering sensation I had when I saw one of the few Ferrari F40s landed in Japan. The body designed by Pininfarina was a sculptural masterpiece, and after two decades since it’s debut I still marvel at the elegant and uncanny design. Ferrari to many is not Ferrari without Pininfarina badge on the body, and Ferrari F40 was the culmination of their many years of collaboration.
Enzo Ferrari passed away the year I moved to New York, and that pretty much ended my Ferrari worship. So did my admiration to Pininfarina design which had always been tied to Ferrari. I didn’t expect anything more from Ferrari since the F40 was Enzo’s last masterpiece just as much as the Rondanini Pietà was for Michelangelo.
When I was looking through an architecture magazine recently an image of a somehow futuristic kitchen caught my eyes. It was the ad of a kitchen appliance maker, and at the corner of the page I found a small logo which I hadn’t seen for many years, a logo which had always been on the body of a Ferrari. I could feel a grin spread across my face, a feeling similar to an unexpected reunion with an old classmate.
There’s something about this kitchen that made me feel it was for men. I am sure my partner Veronique wouldn’t like it but am happy to see a design for a kitchen that makes a Viking or Wolf look old fashioned and boring.
Firstly, I would like to wish you a happy new year, and hopefully your dream fragrance will come true.
I was very happy to see that you enjoyed the last round of mod, and it even sounds like you are not the only one. I just want to take this opportunity to say that our phone conversation was very much a turning point, and that it shows how important it is to communicate and make sure that we are talking the same language.
I have to say that I am very impressed by your knowledge and you are right on target. Mod J is definitaly more balsamic aromatic: It is a combination of different resin like labdanum, peru balsam with geranium, coriander and thyme. Where mod K is more olibanum, musk and woody notes.
So for the next round and maybe the last, I am going to try to combine the best of these two mods and I will keep in mind the comfort of J and its saltyness.
I really enjoyed reading all the comments on the blog,
Talk to you soon,
I will now shut my bad mouth and get back to business. There’s a new comment for Katie’s last review on mods I, J & K. Check it out!
Enjoy the New Year Quiz. (This quiz closed on Sunday, January 7th, 2007. Thanks for your participation! » the quiz and answers)
© What We Do Is Secret
Made by Blog Team would like to thank all of you for a fantastic year, and we look forward to seeing you in 2007.
Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
This concludes Katie’s Round 3 with mods R3/I, R3/J, and R3/K.
I want to begin by calling a quick time-out to tell you just how thoroughly I’ve enjoyed this last round of mods. Like, a can’t-see-straight enjoyment. I seriously want to be nose drunk off of them, rather than have to set anything down into words. Which would land me in the doghouse with you and Nobi, and grind the project to a halt, so here goes…
It’s funny. I see a progression from first to third in this series more than I did with the previous rounds.
“I” pushes forward with those things we talked about in our phone conversation nicely. Breathing a little bit of funk and “animal” into it really puts Auxeos’ feet on the ground. The incensey leather suddenly seems richer to me. There’s more layers of shadow now?
But as we move over to “J,” I discover I am demolished by it – in a good way. “J” takes place in a parellel universe to “I,” where everything from “I” bears a comparatively “spicy” twist. I’m hard pressed to describe it accurately, but I’d say it’s almost like an aromatic balsamic quality that gently rises off the composition. Especially at the top. That truly is an awful verbal approximation, so I hope from that you can gather some idea of what I’m trying to say? It’s not really “spicy,” but I lack a word to nail down what I mean. This is really frustrating! I don’t know how to communicate this, and my apologies!
“J” lights up all those primal reptile knurls in my brain. Obviously, I responded the most viscerally to this mod.
Next we have “K.” I am initally struck by its “perfumey” quality in the initial first phase of wear. I’m not sure about the top on it. It’s a little powdery to me, but then on the other hand, it’s sure not any powder I’ve ever known.
The development on “K” seems the most far-reaching of any of the mods thus far. And I love that. The way it moves and shifts in tones as it develops is quite rewarding. The drydown has a lovely flourished feeling to it, which I can see being very appealing to others, too.
But I love the cozy warmth on “J“s drydown, too. I think it’s something to do with the way the vanillic element in it is used, perhaps. But it’s not explicitly vanilla at any point, which I appreciate. (Or it’s not there at all and I’m a total nutter.)
I hope you can extrapolate something meaningful from this feedback. I have layered “J” and “K” together for some sort of mutant creation, but of course… that’s neither workable nor an elegant solution.
After sniffing this round, I’m tempted to rename our fragrance project “Gestalt.” These new mods create allusions without condescending to spell every little thing out too completely: None of the notes whomp you over the head with a frying pan of obvious. But then, “Gestalt” isn’t a very pretty word, so maybe not. Heh.
“I,” “J,” and “K” are all so well done, and they’ve induced an inability to speak objectively or analytically here. I keep putting them on with the idea I’ll be wearing my thinking cap, too. But I can’t do it! I simply enjoy them too much to do anything except inhale happily. We are galloping down the right path, to say the least.
Oh wait – one hope? Please don’t lose that brittle crust of salt! So many sweet fragrances are out there in the world. If Luca Turin is right, and perfume is not about sex but food, then there ought to be more bold salty ones, too. (For the record, I happen to think it’s both: a little from column A, and a little from column B. It’s my Chinese take-out menu hypothesis on perfume.) That quality seems a little less apparent with this round, but that’s okay. As the fragrance becomes more involved and complex, it’s to be expected that it’ll all change. But I do hope you might find a way to retain just a hint of that, if possible. Unless it smells bad, of course. Then nevermind, heh!
And since I doubt I’ll be posting here again ’til the calendar flips over:
And thank you! It’s been a fun ride this year, and I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the ride in 2007.
A limited quantity of samples from this round will be briefly available through the Made by Blog shop. The set includes sample vials of both mine and Marina’s latest mods.
A few years ago I had dinner with Jacques Cavallier and some other people from Firmenich at my favorite Japanese restaurant in Manhattan which he had heard about from Issey Miyake and wanted to go. Jacques had been in Japan a few times to work with Issey and seemed to have liked being there except for one thing. During the dinner Jacques told me that the smell of Japanese women’s skin bothered him when testing fragrances on them, “Their skin smells like fish.” I laughed and told him that I kind of liked it.
First, I have to say I don’t know about Japanese men because I’ve never stuck my nose to a guy to smell his skin, but I knew the subtle smell of the Japanese women’s skin that Jacques spoke about that evening. However, I’m not sure if I can pick up that smell when a fragrance is sprayed over the skin. I’m talking about a genius that appears only once in many years – Jacques Cavallier can smell many of the things that we can’t. There are a few “scent experts” trying to discredit the genius, but I have to say they either are jealous or cannot understand his sharp sense of humor, and therefore dislike him.
Anyway… what am I trying to say here? Oh right, I think most fragrances smell boring on Japanese women. Generally they have faint body odor, and on top of that they cleanse their bodies too much. When they wear fragrances they only smell like the fragrances. I’m not a big fan of Paris (I’m talking about the city) but love the way women there smell. I don’t particularly enjoy the smell in the Metro or NYC subway during summer, but the mixture of a woman’s body odor and her perfume is often more exciting than any perfume.
Basically the fragrance industry is driven by Western people who don’t know much about Japan or other Asian countries. They often say “Oh, it’s so difficult to sell fragrances in Japan,” or “The Asian market is so unpredictable.” Maybe it’s not important for them to make smash-hit fragrances for Japanese market… but think about Prada or other European fashion brands. Sometimes more than half of their revenues are coming from Japan. Fragrances could do the same as well. So Fragrance Industry, bury your noses in Japanese women and think! I wouldn’t be surprised if you guys come up with a scent that smells like soy sauce.