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Talking 'Process' with Sculptor David Umemoto

Talking 'Process' with Sculptor David Umemoto

If you are like me, then your fascination with beautiful things–art, craft or architecture–doesn't stop at only viewing and appreciating them. You wonder as to how they were built, and possibly what material went into creating them. For that reason, our aim, here at MaterialDriven, will be to not only expose you to great design but to divulge the process behind it.
 Artificial Landscape Series- Monolith 1, by David Umemoto

Artificial Landscape Series- Monolith 1, by David Umemoto

Last week, we spoke to sculptor David Umemoto and shared glimpses of his hand-crafted, textured sculpting with concrete.We shared how David's work sits uniquely between Sculpture and Architecture.

This week, we talk 'Process' with David.We learn about his journey as an artist, his relationship to concrete, and it's multi-faceted molding as well as future direction for his work.

Here is our conversation with David.

MaterialDriven: From Architect to Sculptor. How did that happen?
David: After years of working exclusively on computers, generating 3-D Architectural graphics, I wanted to work with my hands.I moved to Asia and worked with foundries, learning techniques of casting bronze and aluminum. Those techniques were valuable to the development of my work.

 Brutalist Concrete Vase, by David Umemoto. Scroll down to see it's many stages of fabrication.

Brutalist Concrete Vase, by David Umemoto. Scroll down to see it's many stages of fabrication.

MaterialDriven: Your medium for sculpture today is concrete. Why concrete?

David: When I moved back to Montreal, I realized that casting metals would be expensive. My work almost organically began to move towards more humble materials– plaster and then concrete. The hope is that my work can be created in any part of the world and can belong anywhere- Africa or Indonesia or here in Montreal. Concrete is a humble material that allows that.

MaterialDriven: Tell us about the 'form' of your work?
David: I would describe the form and in fact the techniques of fabrication as well, for my pieces as primitive, a sort of regression from technology today. With technology advancing so rapidly, you can choose to either keep up or forfeit. I chose to forfeit.

MaterialDriven: We see beautifully textured surfaces on all of your work. Tell us about the molding process.                                       David: The small, detailed textures are a result of the modular silicon or rubber molding used during casting. But first, I use small pieces of foam-core to design and create formwork that used to make the molds themselves. I sometimes also use clay or plasticine to make more "organic" details.
What follows after the molds are prepared, is casting, de-molding and then curing the concrete.

 Process for Brutalist Concrete Vase by David Umemoto: Foam Core framework for molding

Process for Brutalist Concrete Vase by David Umemoto: Foam Core framework for molding

 Process for Brutalist Concrete Vase by David Umemoto: Casting and de-molding

Process for Brutalist Concrete Vase by David Umemoto: Casting and de-molding

MaterialDriven: What is the intent behind the textured surfaces and modular molds?
David: The small modular molds and minute textures conceal the imperfections of concrete, by embracing them within their joints and folds.

MaterialDriven: The smaller textured surfaces and joints support the scalability of your pieces, we feel–making a viewer feel like they are in a much larger, architectural space.  

David: Yes, the intent is to create a sculpture that could easily be scaled up to become architecture.

 The modular, silicon molds used by sculptor David Umemoto

The modular, silicon molds used by sculptor David Umemoto

MaterialDriven: We see architecture and modularity as strong themes in your current work. What is next for you?

David: At the moment, I am starting to work on pieces inspired by Japanese rock gardens, where the idea is to create contemplative landscapes that imitate the essence of nature, but not try to represent the reality. My idea is not to imitate these gardens but to transpose the general idea into my work. I am trying to build structures that can be read as both natural and manmade.


MaterialDriven: Thanks, David, we can't wait to see them!  

                                                              
Stay tuned for more accounts of 'Process' from prestigious architects, designers, and fabricators!

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