“Bringing light to life. A creator of verdant ecosystems.”－Takaaki Murase(Planter)
The green spherical ecosystems that are suspended in the space may be actual planets. Murase’s “Space Colony” series occupies the space, arranged to resemble a solar system.
The green spheres that twinkle in soft faint light are samples of borrowed scenery that seem like cut-out patches of dense forests. The works that fuse magnificently with living spaces provide fragments of nature’s dynamism to modern people that have become detached from nature.
What Murase strives to achieve is a seamless cycle of life between people and plants. He continues to explore this mutual relationship which is incapable of functioning when either is lacking. This is an example of a seamless communication between the two lifeforms.
So, again today, let’s hear what our little green friends have to say.
We are, after all, companions of the same symbiotic system.
“Plants and Exploring Unique Aesthetics”
— Please tell us how you became fascinated with plants.
I didn’t become fond of plants simply by growing or observing them. I became interested in them through play. I was a child during the bubble economy period, and grew up with a wide assortment of video games, mangas, and action figures to play with. I even collected some myself. I would make the action figures fight each other and line them up as décor for my room. However, I felt that the look of these action figures without a lively background felt quite insufficient. I mean, the main protagonists of video games and anime don’t come to life without a backdrop. This is when I discovered my grandfather’s bonsai trees. I placed some of my grandfather’s small bonsai trees behind my action figures and realized their sizes were perfect as backdrops. Therefore, I had always viewed plants as toys.
Additionally, during my adolescent years, I would make aquariums, recreating various scenes using waterweeds. I also had a large collection of house plants such as cacti when I became a working adult. Even then, I considered plants as toys and mainly collected them as a hobby. Therefore, my knowledge of plants was acquired through self-education.
— So, plants were your playmates as well as your good friends.
I first started my career working with plants around my thirties when I received an offer to design the interior of a café. I had planned to decorate the space using the pre-existing interior of the property. Therefore, the concept I had for the design was heavily inspired by the looks of city ruins. At the time, I was fascinated by the mystic atmosphere of buildings engulfed by greens and regularly went on trips to visit various ruins. My design that blended inorganic materials and organic materials such as plants went viral across various media, and I started to receive plant related job offers after the café opened.
— Was this where you decided to continue your activities as a planter?
Designing the café interior was definitely a major catalyst. I then went on to participate in an art project led by Red Bull, an energy drink brand. I created a bizarre art piece by covering their drink coolers with moss. Their design was highly regarded by everyone involved and I began receiving requests to host my own exhibition. Most of the time, the design jobs I received ended up becoming my portfolio.
— Through your fascination for plants, have you ever had an interest in similar categories such as flowers and gardening?
I did have an interest in gardening for its transforming design features. However, I was not especially fond of flowers. Now, I’ve actually started practicing ikebana for its ephemeral characteristics and even gained more of an understanding for flowers through exchanges with florists, but back then, I wasn’t particularly interested.
I am more intrigued by organic designs rather than something that is man-made. With that in mind, I seek to create work with garden like aesthetics by having flowers grow naturally. My true goal is to achieve sustainability and I am committed to continue creating work by contemplating the cycle of life, observing what organic designs the plants will exhibit depending on the environment.
— What motivated you to create work that circulate based on the laws of nature and life?
This is heavily related to the fact that I am based in Kyoto. Houses and stores here are known as eel beds since the buildings are consecutively aligned with long and narrow layouts. It is also worthy to note that it is dark here. On the other hand, in addition to water, plants need light to survive. Based on these features, I became interested in creating impressive art pieces that would enable plants to grow in dark environments. It was at this time I discovered some lamps that were originally used on ships at an antique shop. I imagined I would be able to create plant based interior décor if I placed the plants within these lamps and shined light on them. Since I was aware that waterweeds could be grown if you shined lights on them from my experiences creating aquariums as a child, I realized that I could use LED lights, which weren’t a thing back then, to create my work. This is how I came up with the “Space Colony” series.
— What do you think makes your “Space Colony” series fascinating?
I believe it is because it is iconic. Furthermore, depending on what my clients think of them, they can be both a product and art piece.
My “Space Colony” series will continue to change and can be sustained if handled correctly. It is a proposal to achieve a design that blends well with the contemporary living space. Specifically, it is a means to achieve a sense of coexistence between plants and interiors as well as architecture. I believe my “Space Colony” series, which takes a minimalistic spherical shape, is a neutral type of minimal design that fits perfectly in any space including stores, galleries, and tea rooms.
I hope that each of my pieces would act as a lens, that would gain the attention of their viewers, through their microscopic habitats confined within their spherical casings and environments they are installed in.
— They definitely seem to have an extremely interactive function.
However, I hope their viewers would delve another step deeper into my true intentions. By setting my “Space Colony” series under LED lights and hanging them so that the ground surface is at eye level, the miniature world of plants, that we don’t really pay much attention to, can be observed with ease. Since the layers under the soil can be seen through the transparent glass, I would like for their viewers to discover the fine details of nature, such as how roots spread, the variations in moss color and form, and the various expressions of stones, and revisit the origins of nature with new questions and interest.
— Do you have a policy when you create your work?
My policy is to keep my work unfinished. I try to leave intentional spaces for each of the owners of my work to enjoy. In terms of detail, I make sure to create my works in designs that look beautiful from any angle. I do specify the front face of my work, but I leave intentional spaces and keep them unfinished so their owners would be capable of enjoying the pieces by discovering their own scenes. My works are not complete once they are in the hands of collectors or when they are set up for viewing. Instead, this is where their stories begin. The first step to coexistence between man and plant.
Grew up admiring his grandfather’s bonsai during his childhood, creating his own aquariums during his teens, and collecting rare species of plants during his youth. Self-taught as a planter, he began his activities as “Re:planter” in 2012. Based on his Re:cycle x Plants concept, he continues to create living works that revolve while exploring the laws of nature while residing in Kyoto.
With the mission of "Respect and Go Beyond," the company is developing an art production business that raises the spirituality and aesthetics of the tea ceremony by "reinterpreting" the comprehensive Japanese art of "chanoyu" by crossing it with various domains such as technology and street culture.