Breathing Objects

Breathing Objects
Breathing Objects
The project is an installation taking place in squares and fountains. It is an experiment to see how people feel about immobile forms made of water.

Keita Sato (SATEREO)
Lisbon, Portugal
Team members
Keita Sato
Field of work
Architecture, Design, Research
Project category
Raising awareness
Project submitted

I am a Japanese product designer living in Lisbon. I worked for the Japanese camera manufacturer Canon for 11 years, designing SLR cameras and other products. I then became independent and started my own design studio, SATEREO, where I designed a wide range of products, including cameras, headphones, furniture and robots. I am a qualified architect and I also design interiors, houses and shops with the precision of a product designer. I teach product design at a university in Japan and conduct research in Lisbon on the link between design and attachment to objects.
By having the perspective of both Japan, a country of mass products, and Portugal, a country of crafts, I am thinking about the future of the whole object, which is not only limited to industrial products since the industrial revolution.
I have received many awards, including IF Award(Germany), DIA Award Design-yiwu Gold Prize(China), Good Design Award(Japan), DFA Award(HongKong), DEZEEN AWARD(England), and more.

Even today, when the environmental burden has become more apparent, usable objects continue to be thrown away. As an industrial designer, I think about whether this problem can be solved from the perspective of the attachment that people have to things. These days, products are regarded as mere tools for solving problems. However, before the Industrial Revolution, objects provided people with not only convenience but also emotional richness. Can we create installations that make inorganic objects feel alive and remind us of their irreplaceable existence?

Even if a living thing is stationary in place, it is moving: even if it is not moving a single millimetre, blood flows through the body without stagnation, the heart beats, and thoughts are constantly racing. Water is a tangible yet amorphous object, which cannot maintain a constant form unless it is continually supplied with external energy. The aim of this work is to capture 'form (=design)', which appears to have nothing to do with 'movement', as a connected concept. It is an experiment to create objects that only gain form through the intervention of movement, and to see whether people feel their existence in front of these objects, which do not move but are continuously being renewed.

This project is an installation in a place where people gather. The water is circulated, so a fountain in a square, a pond in a park or a swimming pool in a hotel would be easy to realise. The device is a collection of units that spurt water. By digitally controlling the position and height of the water jet from the unit, a collection of columns of water is created, creating a sculpture made of water.

This is a reflection on form and attachment. One of the key elements in creating attachment is the feeling that it is indeed present and alive. If we think of plants, a fixed form does not necessarily mean that they are not alive. I wondered if such a state of affairs could be applied to artificially designed forms.