Chat with sculptor artist, David Umemoto

David Umemoto is an architect and sculptor, creating original works from his studio in Montréal, Canada. His miniature concrete structures refer to buildings, monuments and dwellings, that capture ancient and often ethereal places, through the use of his solid and modern medium. Umemoto is passionate about the handmade approach, not conceding to the pressures modernity imposes on artists, encouraging the incorporation of tech. He is committed to plainness, which is reflected not only in his process, but in his aesthetic, and his outcomes.

      Concrete Spaces ii

Bankside Studio’s first concept collection was inspired by the Brutalist architecture movement of the 1950’s. The movement, known as Béton Brut, presents the characteristics of steel and concrete, which together produce stark, block structures. Our collection was designed by our in-house team of graphic designers and photographers, producing a concept collection inspired by design. We reached out to David Umemoto, offering the opportunity to collaborate on a design. The result is the limited edition t-shirt, featured below.

           

We conducted a short interview with David, to find out more about his passions, creative inspirations, and work process...

YOU TALK VERY PASSIONATELY ABOUT THE UNIVERSAL APPEAL OF STRUCTURE AND ARCHITECTURE. WHAT ORIGINALLY DREW YOU TO THE BRUTALIST MOVEMENT?

The term ‘brutalism’ has been widely associated with my work, which is mostly because of my use of raw concrete. Personally, I like to describe my style as ‘primitivism’. I am really inspired by the primitive arts and architecture from the Americas, Polynesia and Africa. I like the way they used art as a language, a scripture, a code; a way to communicate with nature, the outer world and the unknown. Their sculptures were tools, their buildings machines, incorporating basic geometry, symmetry and repetitive patterns. I would like to think that anyone with simple tools and local basic materials could build my structures. I love brutalist architecture as abstract objects, but I'm not convinced they all benefit the people and communities they're set in.

HOW DOES YOUR DESIGN PROCESS BEGIN? DO YOU KEEP A SKETCHBOOK OF IDEAS, OR DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION IN YOUR MATERIAL?

I take different approaches to creating my pieces. Sometimes, I draw very detailed schematics, from which I build precise moulds. These are usually waste moulds built in polystyrene that are used only once. In this case, there are no second thoughts, the pieces are finished when I finish the drawings. I sometimes work with a ‘library’ of modular rubber mould parts, that I assemble to cast unique pieces. Creating complex 3D objects in negative is sometimes challenging, so in this case, I start by casting a proof. This allows me to validate and modify the design if needed, before casting the final pieces. Generally speaking, I love it when things ‘fit’ together. My whole process is very iterative. If you could put all the pieces I've produced in the last couple years, in a chronological order, you would see the very slow evolution of my work. It's like a sketching process, where instead of erasing a line when I'm not satisfied, I just make another piece with a slight modification, over and over again.

YOUR WORK IS BEAUTIFULLY STARK AND RAW. HOW DO YOU MAKE EACH DESIGN UNIQUE?

What really drives me is the research and experimental aspect of the work, with forms but also with materials and techniques. I mostly follow what comes from the results of these experiments rather than trying to reach specific goals or results. I think my work process has a great influence on everything I do.

 


Concrete Urns // Model no.16 

Cubic Geometry // SIX -18


YOUR WORK IS BEAUTIFULLY STARK AND RAW. HOW DO YOU MAKE EACH DESIGN UNIQUE?

What really drives me is the research and experimental aspect of the work, with forms but also with materials and techniques. I mostly follow what comes from the results of these experiments rather than trying to reach specific goals or results. I think my work process has a great influence on everything I do.

WE’RE VERY INSPIRED BY DESIGN AND STRUCTURE, AND USE FASHION AS OUR CANVAS. AS A SCULPTOR, HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT ADAPTING YOUR WORK INTO A TWO DIMENSIONAL FORM?

3D work can be seen in so many ways, it's interesting to have some control over people’s perception of the pieces, no matter the context and surroundings. I like to take photos of my work because it allows me to frame precise angles and use lighting effects. To then integrate these images onto another canvas isn’t something I’ve thought about.

           

 

     


BANKSIDE x UMEMOTO


Follow the link below to purchase your limited edition
BANKSIDE x UMEMOTO t-shirt.