As a culmination of his Stanley Picker Fellowship, internationally renowned product designer and sound artist Yuri Suzuki presents a new solo exhibition that explores a definition of sound design in our contemporary period. The title Furniture Music comes from French composer Eric Satie’s description of his own music as ‘a sound that should not be actively listened to, but present at the periphery of our daily lives’. Suzuki’s work seeks to examine exactly those sounds at the periphery, which can greatly impact our environments, and offer solutions to real-world problems by challenging how these sounds are designed.
Suzuki’s decade of experience in sound design has spurred his work in creating soundscapes through the use of software, as well as in art installations and product design. Despite recent advances, he finds that sound design at the manufacturing level is falling behind other areas of design and technology, partly due to the field’s lack of definition. The everyday sounds of our contemporary industrialised society – such as those from computers, mobiles, appliances, transport, construction, and more – generate dramatic levels of noise pollution affecting psychological processes of the brain – such as one’s mood – in ways we are often unaware of. Developed out of Suzuki’s investigation on how sound affects us, Furniture Music attempts to re-design the domestic soundscape and propose ways for sound to not turn into noise but rather help enhance harmony and comfort within one’s surrounding environment.
‘When you do your laundry, why must you listen to a dreadful pounding noise that may distract you from your tasks or simply take you away from the present?’, states Suzuki. ‘Could a washing machine make a beautiful ambient sound instead? Our lives may be made easier with technology taking care of most of our chores, but perhaps, with a little imagination, we could redefine how sound impacts on our mental wellbeing’. Furniture Music comprises two main bodies of work: an immersive installation, titled Sound of the Waves (2018); and a series of appliances and furniture pieces conceived for the kitchen/living areas of the home which include, amongst others, a Singing Washing Machine (2018), developed in conversation with composer Matthew Herbert, and a Musical Kettle (2017).
The positive influence of the sea (and generally of nature) on our well-being is an established fact and is partly explained through the the mental association of nature with downtime, while the urban environment is commonly the backdrop for work and anxiety. In Sound of the Waves (2018), Suzuki explores the use of minimal and abstract sonic representation of nature to evoke relaxing and meditative emotional responses. The work is made of twelve rotating cylinders filled with little pebbles that are choreographed through real-time tidal data from twelve beaches around the world. As the cylinders rotate, they recreate the sound of waves and acoustically generate an artificial representation of the ocean. In Suzuki’s words, ‘It’s like a musical instrument played by the sea’.
Furniture Music events programme is curated with Disegno and realised with kind support from The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.
In-kind support to Yuri Suzuki’s exhibition is kindly provided by SCP
Yuri Suzuki (b. 1980, Tokyo) is a sound artist, designer, and electronic musician who explores the realms of sound through exquisitely designed pieces. He looks into the relationship between sound and people, and how music and sound affect their minds. His work in sound, art, and installations has been exhibited all over the world. After studying Industrial Design at Nihon University, Suzuki worked for the Japanese art unit Maywa Denki (who created the Otamatone). He then moved to London to study Design Products at the Royal College of Art under the tutelage of Ron Arad. During this period, he also worked with YAMAHA to produce musical experiences. In 2013, he started teaching at the Royal College of Art, while being a research consultant for Disney, New Radiophonic Workshop, and Teenage Engineering. In this same year, he set up Yuri Suzuki Design Studio, focusing on R&D, and sound and design consultancy work, where he collaborates with many clients including Google, Moog, will.i.am, Panasonic, and Disney to name a few. Suzuki created the DIY musical instrument OTOTO (comprising a built-in synthesiser and sampler) – with Mark McKeague and Joseph Pleass as Dentaku Ltd – to much public acclaim, also in 2013. In 2014, the Museum of Modern Art, New York acquired this work as well as Colour Chasers in their permanent collection.