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Japan Unlayered

Fairmont Pacific Rim celebrates contemporary Japanese architecture, design and culture in Japan Unlayered.

Fairmont Pacific Rim played host to an exhibition that celebrates contemporary Japanese architecture, design and culture earlier this year. Japan Unlayered is designed to be a sensory experience that invites one to experience Japanese culture through touch, taste, sight, sound and smell. 

Japan Unlayered is curated by master Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, his firm Kengo Kuma & Associates (KKAA) and the developers-owners of Fairmont Pacific Rim, Westbank and Peterson. The exhibition explores in-depth collaboration between KKAA and Westbank, to present Japanese craftsmanship alongside contemporary design to illustrate that the defining principles of Japanese design remain the same despite the evolution of technology.

The exhibition, open to hotel guests and the public free-of-charge, displayed over two levels of Fairmont Pacific Rim, pays particular tribute to the Japanese philosophy of layering, where overlapping elements define an overall experience, and which Kuma-san’s work embodies. A retrospective look at the architecture of Kengo Kuma, from its small beginnings to its current large-scale works, is among the displays. The contents of the exhibition will extend beyond his work to include Japanese design from a wide range of fields and brands. 

The experience begins at the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s main entrance. Just inside the front doors, the traditional Japanese teahouse is given contemporary treatment with a 130 square metre ‘Super Organza’ fabric roof, made of 27 micron polyester (one sixth the thickness of a strand of hair), suspended from a translucent helium balloon. Two of Japan's iconic brands, MUJI and BEAMS will be debuting their renowned products. A Vancouver exclusive MUJI “pop-up” pavilion, designed by Kuma-san using Canadian oak, will sell the brand’s signature products, known as “no brand quality goods”. The value of MUJI products is found in their simplicity and functionality, not in the name of the brand or the name of the designer. Taking over giovane café will be the lifestyle products of BEAMS JAPAN, which highlights modern Japanese design and craftsmanship. BEAMS JAPAN is one of the latest projects by renowned retailer BEAMS, and this “pop up” shop will be their first in North America.

 “Design in Japan is deeply rooted in tradition, drawing on centuries of rich history yet constantly growing, consuming many influences while producing cultural outcomes that remain uniquely Japanese,” says Ian Gillespie, President of Westbank. “We hope this cultural richness and exchange of thinking with Japan will help Vancouver absorb the best of the world and at the same time develop its own unique aesthetics. As a very young city, and one of the most multicultural cities in the world, [this is a place where] there's huge potential to cross pollinate ideas.”

The exhibition and ever-evolving experience include additional layers such as speaking events, fashion displays and music in the hotel’s lobby lounge, all with contemporary Japanese influence.

“Fairmont Pacific Rim has become recognised as a destination for art, architecture and design,” said Frederic Bellone, Hotel Manager, Fairmont Pacific Rim. “We are proud to be part of Japan Unlayered and to have our team involved in a rich cultural exchange that our guests can experience.”

Ed White, Dennis Gocer & Ema Peters
01 March 2017