A young Emmanuelle Moureaux loved to play in the newly built apartments and houses her real-estate agent mother would visit. A French architect living in Tokyo since 1996, she established emmanuelle moureaux architecture + design in 2003. Her approach of using colors as three-dimensional elements continues to produce vibrant and distinctive work.
You moved from France to Japan in 1996—what took you there?
I read a lot of Japanese literature when I was studying architecture in France. Fascinated by the culture, I decided to learn more about Japanese cities. As a research theme for my architectural diploma, I chose “a multifunction building in Tokyo,” and visited the city in 1995. The trip was a turning point for me. When I got off the train and saw the cityscape, it was like seeing color for the first time. Within hours of being in Tokyo I decided to live there. I went back to France, and two months after getting my French architect’s license, I moved to Tokyo.
In what way does the architecture of Japan compare with that of France?
Architecture in Japan is always changing. It means that the architecture evolves at the same time as people. In France, architecture means preservation and history.
Did you love color as a child?
The same as all children I think, not more, not less. But I was painting and drawing a lot.
How do you feel color affects how we live?
Color can define space, but it also inspires emotion. Most importantly color makes people happy.
Tell us about your ongoing 100 Colors series…
100 Colors forms space, allowing people to see 100 colors at a glance. In daily life you can’t see these shades in one space at the same time. I want people to immerse themselves in them and feel colors with all their senses.
Explain the idea behind your recent Color of Time installation, part of the 100 Colors series, at Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art & Design…
Color of Time visualizes the flow of time through a journey through 100 colors. It starts with the sky of Toyama on the first day of the exhibition, on November 16, 2017. From sunrise at 6:30am, the color transitions through a total of 799 minutes, passing 6:11pm astronomical twilight to 7:49pm when the color disappears into blackness.
What unites your architecture and design work?
My design concept shikiri, which means defining space with colors. I use colors as three-dimensional elements, like layers, in order to create spaces, not as a finishing touch applied to surfaces. I am always moving between different scales.
Color can define space, but it also inspires emotion. Most importantly color makes people happy
How do you begin working on a project?
First I decide on the number of colors I will use, depending on the function, site, and my inspiration.
Tell us about some of your recent ones…
I’ve created a series of window installations for Bao Bao Issey Miyake, and Knit in 100 Colors, a large installation for Uniqlo in Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris. Others include Creche Ropponmatsu, a kindergarten in Fukuoka city, and a new branch of Sugamo Shinkin Bank.
What was your childhood ambition?
First, I wanted to be an archaeologist, then an astronomer.
Which project are you most proud of?
If I had to choose, I would say the 100 Colors series, which is a project for everyone.