Rumble, to take a glance at the world by wandering. Ramble is an album including many sub-albums, and this sub-album is about foreign architects who work in China. We would introduce you six foreign architects come from Asia, Europe or America with their opinions regarding China, as well as their working and daily life here.This sub-album of Rumble, “foreign architects in China”, includes 6 episodes, and here’s the second episode: odd (odd on gooood).
▽ video视频，建议选择720 HD
Please view the video here if you are not in China: youtube video link here
Four years ago, two young Japanese architects, Okamoto Keizo (36) and Deguchi Tsutomu (35) set up odd together. Both of them have been working in China for more than 10 years. Based in Beijing, odd has projects all over China.
▼ 冈本庆三（左）和出口勉（右），Okamoto Keizo (left) and Deguchi Tsutomu (right)
As Mr. Okamoto described, he would spend most of his year in China except for traveling or home visiting for about 2 weeks. After a day’s working from 10:00am to 6:00pm, he would go out for a drink with Mr. Deguchi and go back home sleeping at around 11:00pm.
” In one word, I am living a good life composed of working and sleeping.” Okamoto Keizo said.
▼ odd办公室大门，entrance of odd office
▼ odd办公室场景，view of odd office
▼ 出口勉在北京胡同里的居所，Mr. Deguchi’s home in Hutong
gooood x odd
Beginning of the story
We would gain more if we work together with two or more people, though I really enjoy the moment of thinking alone.
▼ 一起工作的冈本庆三和出口勉，Mr. Okamoto and Mr. Deguchi working together
By what chance you came to China?
Okamoto Keizo:I had my Bachelor of Architecture in Japan, then I got my Master degree in Nertherland, where I met and got to know a lot of Chinese students. When I was about to find a job after graduation, I decided to move to China, since the economic situation was weak in Japan. At the mean time, Beijing was in the period of Olympics, and the architecture and urban planning industries were growing. So with the help of Chinese friends, I finally came.
Deguchi Tsutomu:I studied urban planning and landscape architecture in college and was very fond of working in projects of mega cities. I came here cause there was just a chance to work as a planner for large cities.
How did you set up odd?
Deguchi Tsutomu: Before we set up “odd”, we both had started our individual design work and the project of “Xiangshe” commissioned by Saffron brought us together, which was the first time we collaborated. I came to realize that when working on residence or any other types of projects, there would always be various problems. We would gain more if we work together with two or more people, though I really enjoy the moment of thinking alone. After this great experience, we thought: why not work together! Then we are what we are now -“odd”.
Okamoto Keizo: We proposed together. We each had our own work, which made it difficult to work together on the same project sometimes. So we decided to share all the resources and work everything together. Thus we could make things of good and fun and support each other at the same time. That’s how “odd” set up.
▼ 二人第一个合作项目-乡舍，Farm House, the first project designed by Okamoto and Deguchi together
Similarity under different scales
In my opinion, China has the power to make them real … Such as to design a café or restaurant in Hutong may transform the whole street into a new look.
As a China based Japanese architect who had studied in Europe, could you explain what you have learned from the three places?
Okamoto Keizo: I found that the design of the whole Europe is excellent when I was in Netherland. You could feel it in the use of colors and the design of additional constructions. Comparing to Japan and China, in Netherlands I can learn more about modern architecture design. As to Japanese, it is the meticulous attitude. Designers will spend much time on solving one particular problem to make it perfect, which benefits me a lot. When it comes to China, it has the power to accomplish the project. This might have something to do about the economy. Since Japan and Europe are in economic crises, it is hard to realize advanced ideas. I became to believe that if one wants to do some meticulous designs, only China has the power to make them real.
Why did you change your focus from urban planning to interior design? What effects does your profession in urban planning have on interior design?
Deguchi Tsutomu: I have participated in sorts of urban planning and development work in China. During our work, we came to find it interest in spaces between individuals and other spaces around changing the community from inside. Thus I went for interior design. Such as to design a café or restaurant in Hutong may transform the whole street into a new look. We can have the true feeling of the changes we made and thus the interior design and small architecture design become the main parts of our work.
Okamoto Keizo: My major was always urban planning. I did some planning work when I first came to China, and realized that here the scale is much bigger than those in Japan and Europe. But there is less consideration of individual demands in large scale projects, so I decided to do some projects that were different from urban planning, which were much smaller in scale and much easier to achieve. At that time, I worked in an office with smaller-scaled projects and wanted to evolve in a design from beginning to complement. That’s why I changed to work in interior design.The work of urban planning focus mainly on analysis, including personal needs, public demands and the impacts on surroundings,etc. This is similar to the work of architecture and interior design. For instance, when designing a restaurant, we should consider and analyze the circulation of the owner, chief or other users. I think this process is not different from urban planning. The gap between projects in different scales is not that significant in my mind.
▼ odd在中国的部分建成作品，以小尺度项目为主，part of odd’s projects in China, all in small scales
Working in China
If we could do some changes, such as adding new functions to adapt to the modern lifestyle and finally makes the life here better, that would be a great success.
What interests you the most when doing transformation design in Beijing?
Okamoto Keizo: The most attracting places of Beijing are Hutongs and suburbs. We have so many interests in the original wood and brick structure. Though I know it is not convenient for the citizens living there, for us architects, if we could do some changes, such as adding new functions to adapt to the modern lifestyle and finally makes the life here better, that would be a great success.
What do you think Beijing could learn from Japan in design?
Okamoto Keizo: When mention to Japanese design, we firstly talk about the details and meticulous attitude. Taking seriously on detail design leads to good quality of products. We learned a lot from that and hoping to present much better projects.
Deguchi Tsutomu: In general, we would not make over decoration in our design. The Japanese pursue concise design, so we distinguish different materials like wood, brick, white wall… and that’s it, no additions. This is the reflection of what we have learned from Japan.
Why do you often use the element of “box” in your design?
Okamoto Keizo: We removed the additional ornament when we did interior design. We focus more on spaces, so cases or house-like boxes are always used in our design. New space relationships occur when there are several boxes in one space and it becomes our design focus on how to utilize them. Thus most of our projects consist of boxes.
▼ 部分用到盒子元素的案例，projects with box elements
大德餐厅（上）Ootoku restaurant (above) / NGO美国大自然保护协会鸟类保护项目区（下）NGO BirdHouse (lower)
What is the decisive factor for you to choose the project?
Deguchi Tsutomu: We want to do smaller projects like interior design that would have impact on the environment around. For us foreigners, we would like to learn new things from Chinese culture and environment while we are working. Like we learned Chinese art while working on museum design, or we learn Chinese food culture when we were designing restaurant… These have more invisible connections with eras and become the principle we choose our projects.
▼ 扎根中国文化和环境的新设计，projects in respond to Chinese culture and environment
鮨然寿司（上，点击蓝色链接看更多）Sushi Zen (above, click HERE to see more）
鼓楼胡同住宅（下左）Gulou Hutong House (left lower) / HE 餐厅（下右）HE restaurant (right lower)
Plan for the future
We will find the meaning of design by doing the 20sqm or 30sqm architecture design.
What is your focus in the future design?
Deguchi Tsutomu: Now we are keen on new use of materials. This is not simply about choosing wood or brick, but about how to make materials extraordinary with the same treatment. We want to research more in this aspect.
Okamoto Keizo: As to materials,I think the feeling and the warmth are of great importance. Materials would change a lot through different surface treatments and I want to learn more about this. This is the same problem for both wood and stone. We use a lot of natural materials in our design, but there are more aspects we haven’t involved in. We would like to dig more into the feelings that materials could bring to users.
▼ 对材料的细致处理，delicate use of materials
What type of project do you want to design in the future?
Okamoto Keizo: We work more on interior design of restaurants and residence at the beginning. Since we major in Architecture and Urban Planning, we would like to work on some smaller scale architecture designs. Even though in China, more projects are about shopping malls and office buildings. We will find the meaning of design by doing the 20sqm or 30sqm architecture design.
▼ 在冈本庆三家中对odd进行访谈 – 两人开怀大笑的片刻，happy moment of interviewing in Okamoto Keizo’s home