This multisensory bamboo installation at Milan Design Week 2021 weaves together visual art and music

OPPO and Kengo Kuma bring their 'Bamboo (竹) Ring :|| Weaving a Symphony of Lightness and Form' artwork to Italy

Bamboo, while stiff and towering, is flexible and doesn’t easily break when the harsh wind comes blowing. This characteristic of the humble tree is pretty much a metaphor for a person’s life. That in order to take yourself to newer heights, one must know how to bend, adapt, and dance with the challenges while keeping one's feet firmly on the ground. Another thing people have in common with bamboo is its skill to harness sound. But instead of using them as sticks to create beats, the bamboo, this time, becomes a vessel that allows music to flow.

'Bamboo (竹) Ring :|| Weaving a Symphony of Lightness and Form'

That is the idea explored by smart device manufacturer and innovator OPPO as it partners with Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The two work together in creating a multi-sensory installation playing with Milan Design Week 2021’s theme “Creative Connections.” The result is a piece that merges architecture with music, design innovation, technological prowess, dubbed as “Bamboo (竹) Ring :|| Weaving a Symphony of Lightness and Form.”

For their second participation at the design festival, OPPO and Kengo Kuma want to take the harmonious relationship between humans and nature to the next level. After their initial Bamboo Ring work at the London Design Festival 2019, they use bamboo and carbon fiber and turn them into an experiential installation that will engage all the senses through a series of orchestral scores composed by Japanese violinist Midori Komachi with Musicity.

Taking inspiration from sounds found in O Relax, the brand’s digital wellbeing application that offers comforting nature and city sounds from around the world, Midori composed various soundscapes based on the cycle of seasons, which moves through the structure along with the viewer.

“When I design architecture, I’m interested in designing the rhythm and the tone rather than the silhouette, and contemporary music gives us many lessons about how to create new rhythms and tones in architecture,” shares the creative visionary Kengo Kuma. “This pavilion is one of the explorations into the new rhythms and tones in architecture combining visual and acoustic experiences of the visitors.”

A closer look at the installation's structure

The installation’s woven structure becomes an instrument as music travels through it via structural sound technologies originating from the brand’s London Design Centre's research. Integrating various sound technologies like haptic motors, MEMS speaker strips, and exciters, the installation produces an immersive base and a range of higher frequencies that reverberate the bamboo to create an overall effect similar to a percussion instrument.

“OPPO is a human-centric brand, and our focus is on innovating for the people. We are delighted to partner with Kengo Kuma again, an architect who is known for seamlessly integrating nature and culture,” says Jintong Zhu, head of OPPO London Design Centre. “Together, we demonstrate how we can use technology and design to add value to our daily lives drawing on our philosophy principles of ‘Technology as an Art Form’ and our brand mission ‘Technology for Mankind, Being Kind to the World.’”

The “Bamboo (竹) Ring :|| Weaving a Symphony of Lightness and Form” is still on display at Milan’s Cortile dei Bagni courtyard until Sept. 19, 2021. After Milan Design Week 2021, the brand will donate the Bamboo Ring installation to Arte Sella Park in Trentino, Italy, a contemporary art museum with outdoor exhibits made from natural materials and backdropped by the mountainous Sella Valley, where it will find its permanent home.