Courtesy of Benesse Art Site Naoshima
An Okayama native, Soichiro Fukutake graduated from the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Waseda University, Tokyo. In 1973 he joined Fukutake Publishing (now Benesse Holdings, Inc.), where he was appointed Representative Director in 1986, and Chairman and CEO in 2007. He was made Executive Adviser of Benesse Holdings Inc. in 2014, and since October 2016 has served as the company’s Honorary Adviser. For over 25 years, Fukutake has spearheaded the Seto Inland Sea renaissance around Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima through the Benesse Art Site Naoshima, a project focused on art, nature and architecture. In 2004, he established the Naoshima Fukutake Art Museum Foundation (now Fukutake Foundation), opened the Chichu Art Museum on Naoshima, and was named an honorary citizen of Naoshima. He has received numerous distinguished awards, including the Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts (2008), the AU Appreciation Prize (2010), the JIA Grand Prix (2011), and the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award (2012).
Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa
Courtesy of Takashi Okamoto
Prolific Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima has produced memorable buildings and museums in Japan, Europe, and America. Sejima studied architecture and graduated with a master’s degree from Japan Women’s University in 1981. After graduating she apprenticed with Toyo Ito for six years before starting her own practice in 1987. Sejima is known for clean, sleek, curved modernist designs incorporating glass, metal, and the colour white. Her early projects, such as the Platform Houses (1987–1990) and the Villa in the Forest in Nagano (1992–1994), demonstrate Sejima’s concern with the temporal physicality of architecture. By developing a visual connection between the indoor and outdoor environments, Sejima displays an understanding of social function and activities. In 1995, Sejima partnered with Ryue Nishizawa to found SANAA. Together they have designed innovative and internationally acclaimed art museums characterised by an airy architectural aesthetic. SANAA’s notable works include the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, the New Museum in New York, and the Rolex Learning Center in Switzerland. Sejima was an international fellow of RIBA in 2007 and was awarded Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France in 2009. She was also a recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize together with Ryue Nishizawa in 2010.
Ryue Nishizawa is a renowned Japanese architect whose architectural projects are characterised by refined simplicity, spatial fluidity, and clever integration with the surroundings. After completing a master’s degree in architecture at the Yokohama National University in 1990, Nishizawa worked with Kazuyo Sejima at Sejima and Associates, co-founding SANAA with Sejima in 1995. The same year, in parallel with earning international recognition for SANAA’s institutional projects such as the O-Museum (1995–1999), Nishizawa set up a studio for smaller, experimental projects. The Moriyama House (2002–2005) and Garden and House (2013) in Tokyo are two widely known projects demonstrating both Nishizawa’s architectural experimentation as well as his interest in an alternative urban living model. Nishizawa also designed the Towada Art Centre in Aomori (2008) and collaborated with artist Rei Naito for the design of the Teshima Art Museum, a building that resembles a droplet of water hugging the island’s hills and was opened in 2010 in time for the first ever Setouchi International Art Festival. Ryue Nishizawa was recognised with a Gold Lion award at the 9th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2004, and in 2010 became the youngest recipient of the Pritzker Prize, when he was recognised together with Kazuyo Sejima.
Aterui, Courtesy of Organizing Committee for Yokohama Triennale
Former Chief and Senior Curator at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2000–2014), Akiko Miki currently works as International Artistic Director of Benesse Art Site Naoshima. Miki was the co-director (Artistic) of the Yokohama Triennale 2017 and served as the Artistic Director of its 2011 edition. She has curated and co-curated major exhibitions in both Asia and Europe, including TransCulture at the 46th Venice Biennale (1995), Site of Desire at the Taipei Biennial (1998), Nobuyoshi Araki: Self-Life-Death at the Barbican Centre in London (2005), Chalo! India: A New Era of Indian Art (2008) and Takashi Murakami: The 500 Arhats (2015) at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Our Magic Hour at the Yokohama Triennale (2011), Hiroshi Sugimoto: Today the world died (2014), Takashi Murakami’s Superflat Collection— from Shōhaku and Rosanjin to Anselm Kiefer (2016) and Islands, Constellations & Galapagos at the Yokohama Triennale (2017). She has authored and edited numerous books, including Insular Insight (Lars Müller, 2011), which received the DAM Architectural Book Award.