In 2019, through photographer Arita Chiyuki, Handhome had the chance to know her husband – Shogo Onodera – a young architect based in Tokyo, Japan. Before founding his own practice – Office Shogo Onodera in 2017, he had been working at SANAA for 7 years and executing projects around the world. He is also the owner of the Dezeen (2018) and Frame awards (2019). To have a clear understanding of his work and vision for the future, Handhome reached out to Shogo and had a conversation with the architect.
Hello Onodera, please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, I am Shogo Onodera, I am an architect based in Tokyo. I started my own practice “Office Shogo Onodera” at the end of 2017.
We see that you’ve been in the field for about 9 years, how has your work changed since then?
Everything has changed, especially the “scale” of the world. I have also learnt that architecture has no border.
We’d like to congratulate you on the winning of Dezeen Award for Office with a Patio. How about this project?
Thank you very much. It is great to know that something that we had worked hard on was recognized internationally. Although “Office with a Patio” was an interior work, we took the same approach as architecture when we were developing an idea, which is to propose a new way of thinking in order to solve various problems rather than making a building that is merely noticed.
Office with a Patio was an office interior design project. By organizing and simplifying the requests from the users as much as possible, we managed to gain some extra space. That is where it is called the Patio. We entrusted the margins, which was made by taking a rational and logical approach, to the users themselves, and created an environment where ideas can be easily generated.
What’s your plan for 2019?
Since it is now my second year as Office Shogo Onodera, the aim is to complete those projects on which I am currently working.
It was rather an interior-oriented year last year (since interior works took less time than architecture), but the architectural projects are surely making some progress too, so I will concentrate more on those this year. Also, if possible, I would like to start working on a research project concurrently with design.
Arata Isozaki has just won this year Pritzker Prize and became the 8th Japanese architects to have the honor, is this “tradition” the results of a common goal in every Japanese architect’s career?
It is one of the finest goals to achieve for sure – it goes without saying, but I do not necessarily believe that it is “the goal”.
The goal is certainly to work towards something, but first of all, it is necessary to complete a project which is fundamentally and/or socially meaningful.
The biggest question is that whether or not the project can produce a positive impact on the client, on the users, and on the people in the area. And this matter is on a different level from honour or prize. Therefore, having said that, it is definitely an amazing and utmost honour to archieve as a result. And it is surely encouraging that many Japanese architects are being awarded.
What do you think about architectural education in Japan nowadays?
Regarding education, I do not know the current situation because I am not in a teaching position. Also, when I was a student, I didn’t go to school much either, so the extracurricular activities and actual practices were the main source of my study.
However, what I realized after starting out my own practice is that I was taught to recognize Modernism as “the way”. So, if I ever get a chance to go to school again, there are many things that I would like to go over.
After several years of practice, I think it would be a great opportunity to be able to engage in education, either as a teacher or even as a student.
Should young architects first work in a famous architect’s office or having them as mentors to create a foundation for their career?
There are a lot of young people who succeed with their own practice, but what I can say from my own experience is that I am glad to have gone through what I had gone through.
If I hadn’t chosen to learn from anyone 10 years ago and decided to start my own practice, there would have been a big difference in the quality of the project, the range of designs that can be proposed, and the types of work that I can be involved. I am sure that there are other points of view, but what I can say is that I am grateful for what my mentors have shown me – the wider world through work.
In general, who influenced you the most?
Of course they are Sejima and Nishizawa. I worked under them everyday for 8 years, and I was greatly influenced by each.
What have you learnt from the days at SANAA?
I have learnt various things such as, how big the world is, how to create new values, how to approach a problem, how to proceed a project, how to bring a proposal forward, etc.
But the most precious thing that I have gained while working at SANAA is the friends from the same generation who are now working all around the world, and also the people who I met through work. Even now we still make time for each other in various places around the world, have a meal or drinks together and talk about wonderful collaboration or future vision, and that we young generation will do our best and make the world a better place.
Thank you, Shogo!