Sendai, Japan – A visit to Tokyo in the 1990s changed Emmanuelle Moureaux’s life forever. Falling in love with the city and its colourscapes, she decided to move there after completing her architecture studies in France. Her dream was to open her own design office in Tokyo, even though the need to learn the language and obtain Japanese qualifications meant starting from scratch. In 2003 she finally opened her studio, from which she has worked on a wide range of projects – including a bank, an entire train line in Taiwan and numerous art installations – ever since. United by their use of colour as a main spatial principle, an approach she calls shikiri, her creations use as many as 1,000 different hues, each of which is custom made. Moureaux teaches at the Tohoku University of Art and Design.
When did your obsession with colour begin?
EMMANUELLE MOUREAUX: When I saw Tokyo for the first time. As a student back home in France, I’d never really been aware of colour, and as soon as I got off the train, I saw it with fresh eyes. There’s just so much colour here. It’s also the way it manifests itself as layers floating it space. That effect is created by the combination of neon signage, overhead cables and different building heights – and it’s unique to Tokyo. When I realized how little colour actually features in Japanese design and architecture, which is mostly monochrome, I decided I wanted to establish my own studio to explore it.
What’s the appeal of colour for you?
The emotions it generates. It makes the heart sing; it fills you with energy. Through my work I want people to feel what I felt on my first visit to Tokyo.