Vanessa’s Process

Ascetic Emptiness

Constructivist Emptiness

Minimalist Emptiness

Formal Emptiness, Organic Emptiness

Emptiness as Potential

1 thought on “Vanessa’s Process

  1. shinichi Post author

    Emptiness as Potential.

    Vanessa's Process

    Emptiness as Potential.


    Emptiness in a contemporary interior design is often sought by architects and designers in order to achieve order, frugality and purity as a counterpoint to the stressful, busy and noisy outside world. A point of reference for this ideal is the Japanese architectural tradition of quietness, sobriety and harmony of mind, spirit and nature. …”


    Interesting Findings from the context :

    ” Emptiness in the interior has many faces. Engel, Benjamin and Bertoni each point out different promises related to the idea of a sober interior: quietness and potentiality for Engel, adequacy and respectability for Benjamin, authencity and serenity for Bertoni. ‘Emptiness’ thus stands for many things. ” – Page 30

    Personal Thoughts:

    Emptiness creates room for potential and potential root from emptiness. From the “Emptiness as Potential”, emptiness can be seen in layers through different perspective. The faces of each emptiness creates different interpretation for the user.


    ” Adolf Loos described this in his essay ” The poor little rich man ” [38]… Loos described a rich man who wanted to live in art and asked an architect to build this for him. The architect performed as well as he could and the rich man was happy. But after some time, the rich man became sad because he could not buy new art once this would interfere with the interior designed by the architect. Everything is so geometrically pure that there is no room for the natural dynamic of the inhabitants’ life. In this way, emptiness with all its potentiality becomes a dangerous concept. ” – Page 36

    Personal Thoughts:

    Emptiness with all its potentiality becomes a dangerous concept” A layer of emptiness that portrays the cons of the concept. I thought it is something interesting and new as compared to the focused research I have been doing, which is how emptiness and possibility can create many creative and good possibility for my project.


    As I read through the context from “Emptiness as Potential”, I will note down in point form the understanding and useful points from the context in this post.


    LAYER ONE – Ascetic Emptiness:

    – Traditional Japanese architecture developed a very specific vision on emptiness, which materialized in temples as well as dwellings.

    – Influenced by tea cult and Zen Buddhism.

    – Tea Cult: Idea is about the simplicity of tea pouring. Perfected by Sen-no-Rikyu

    – Wabi: Transforming negative to positive, heightening sense of spirituality, like a hermit living in the solitude within a forest. Thus, a form of voluntary poverty is known as wabi.

    – Sabi: aesthetics of the practice of poverty.

    – Wabi Sabi :Considered as empty ( Existing either as an evolutive state, like a newborn child, or a devolutive state, like an elderly man ) Hence, This potential of emptiness can be translated to an interpretation where not the emptiness as such is important, but rather that what can fill the emptiness.

    – Wabi Sabi : reflects on the simplicity and imperfect details of the Japanese architecture. The concept of ma, give a sense of emptiness and negation.

    People to take note of:


    – “Being an Nothingness”.

    – Imagination and nothingness play a substantial role in Sartre’s work.

    Imagination is the completion of something hidden or absent.

    – ” Nothingness, which is not, can have only a borrowed existence, and it gets its being from being”

    The link between negation, which makes imagination possible, and imagination in itself creates a freedom for the subject to be able to live in this world.



    LAYER TWO – Constructivist Emptiness

    – Russian Constructivism, developed its own sense of interior spaces as basically empty containers where the furniture was purely functional and decoration largely absent.

    – Arvatov replaces the need for possession by a new relationship between person and object.

    – Object should become a companion instead of a slave.

    – Arvatov saw the relationship in functional and active objects, this includes for example multifunctional furniture, reversible clothing and revolving doors.

    Empty volume with most essential pieces of furniture.

    – Essential pieces were transformable for diversity functions, leading to new experience for user.

    – Architecture should be transient.

    – The potential of emptiness for Constructivists was the elimination of a possessive relationship to objects. Everything should be equal, to reflect inter subject relationships.

    – Hannes Meyer’s Coop Zimmer plays with the notion of a nomadic existence, where transience and instability prevail over permanence and rootedness.

    – Coop Zimmer: A bare space with minimal furniture. Aesthetically marked by pure forms ( rectangle, square, circle, triangle )

    – A freedom of movement, economies, simplification and relaxation.

    People to take note of:

    Artist Alexander Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin : Provide concrete eg. of practical interpretation of socialist ideas and theories

    Boris Arvatov : Formulated the theoretical basis for these practices.

    Hannes Meyer : A Swiss architect, prominent Constructivist and director of the Bauhaus 1928 – 1930. Coop Zimmer


    LAYER THREE : Minimalist Emptiness

    – In seek to find the purest form and cleanness of the geometric trace.

    Whiteness plays an essential role for the connotation of Minimalist image with pure language and absence of any ‘visual pollution’.

    – The aestheical search for a pure form reflects the belief that life’s meaning is in connection with a core essential elements.

    – The emptiness could act as a counter form to the overflow of information that people have to process everyday.


    People to take note of:



    LAYER FOUR : 1. Formal Emptiness & 2. Organic Emptiness

    1. Formal Emptiness:

    – John Pawson ( 1949 )

    – His own built home is not just an unconventional house, but rather an exercise to balance practicality with pure geometry and forms.

    – Although Pawson is Inspired by traditional Japanese architecture and Zen Buddhism, he also differs the philosophy behind it.

    – The concept of Wabi-Sabi concerning materials is not found in his house.

    – According to Pawson, every material has to be seamless to achieve the deepest impression of visual silence.

    An Emptiness of Elimination


    2. Organic Emptiness

    – Marie-José Van Hee ( 1950 ) : A belgian architect.

    – Her house is designed as an L shape.

    – Van Hee designed three stairs connecting the mezzanine, kitchen and living room to offer a free circulation throughout the house.

    – The different points, where the stairs are located, don’t oblige one to always follow the same path and therefore spontaneity is stimulated while at home.

    – The stretched of the house between the three stairs and inner courtyard offers a greater possibilities in circulation and living experience.

    – Such emptiness displayed in Van Hee house are more natural and organically grown than the emptiness in Pawson’s House.

    – Van Hee’s house speak for a sustainable, sober interior that can withstand time and offer timeless dynamics [47].

    – Van Hee also chose modest and discrete materiality for her design creating a more symbolical than literal emptiness.


    LAST LAYER : (CONCLUSION) Emptiness as Potential

    Japanese ascetic :

    – Focus on individual who is stimulated by emptiness of interior to develop own’s spirituality.

    – Realizing a harmonious form of beauty, expressed in simplicity, geometry and purity, and characterized by a sense of wholeness and unity with nature.

    Constructivist interiors:

    – Accommodation of multiple use.

    – TIme is seen as a condition of change, fleetingness, flexibility and transformation.

    – Things are not harmoniously interconnected, but towards multiplicity, diversity and possibly conflict.

    – Nature stands for stability, unity and wholeness, time is seen as motionless and beauty is strived for harmony than disruption.


    – Concept of nature, time and beauty are different as compared to constructivist.


    Personal Thoughts:

    Findings – emptiness can be seen in layers, apart from just the relation of possibility and emptiness. Apart from the understanding of each layer of emptiness in this article, I have also note out the possible candidate of people to further my research and understanding.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.