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Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition by Shigeru Ban

Shigeru Ban exhibits Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin lights in paper-tube tunnel

Architect Shigeru Ban has created a space from paper tubes to showcase lamps by architect Frank Lloyd Wright for The Harmony of Form and Function exhibition during Milan design week.

Located in the Italian city's Brera district, the Harmony of Form and Function exhibition showcases the Taliesin lights, produced by Japanese lighting brand Yamagiwa.

The geometric wooden lights, which were designed by Wright in 1933, are named after his home and studio in Wisconsin.

Taliesin light exhibition at Milan design week
Paper tubes form an immersive tunnel

For Milan design week Ban created an exhibition that presents the Taliesin lamps within a tunnel-like structure made from paper tubes, a material that the architect has used extensively in the past – including to create his Paper Partition System for refugee shelters.

In Milan, Ban chose to use the tubes to create a space that would let visitors focus on the lights themselves.

"I wanted to create a very strong relation to the lighting – the lights are different types but it's the same design, and I wanted to have a strong axis to see this design concept continuously," Ban told Dezeen.

Paper tubes at The Harmony of Form and Function by Shigeru Ban
Shigeru Ban also used the tubes to create decorative screens

"Because of the characteristic of this particular space, I found out that a strong axis in the space existed already," he added. "So I took advantage of this particular condition to make a linear corridor.'

"The Taliesin light is made of linear, straight lines, so I also wanted to make a contrast between the straight lines and the curbed ceiling."

Window with pattern by Frank Lloyd Wright
A window features a design by Frank Lloyd Wright

A window at the end of the tunnel provides the only other light in the space. Here, Ban inserted one of Wright's own leaded-glass window designs.

"The exhibited thing is lighting itself, so I didn't want to mix the lights with other lighting and I was thinking of how to make the lighting beautiful in its own right," Ban explained.

Taliesin lights by Frank Lloyd Wright
The geometric shape of the lamps contrast the curved space

His design for the tunnel also drew on the glass tube corridor that Wright designed for the Johnson Wax offices and the entrance area of the VC Morris Gift Shop, where Wright used long, thin bricks with a colour similar to the paper tubes.

As well as being suitable for the space and nodding to past Wright designs, Ban chose to use the paper tubes because they are easy to disassemble once the design week is over.

"We had to make a space very quickly and I didn't want to waste much material," Ban said.

"This paper tube system I made very quickly, and it's very easy to install without any screws as well as easy to remove," he added. "This paper tube is available in almost any country and after we use it, we can store it or recycle it ourselves."

Close-up of Taliesin lights in Shigeru Ban exhibition
The exhibition displays Taliesin lights in different colours

Also on show as part of the exhibition is Ban's own lighting design homage to Wright, the Paper Taliesin lamp made for Yamagiwa in 2017.

"They chose five designers to design a homage to Taliesin," Ban said. "Some of them didn't make lighting but I made the Taliesin homage with paper tubes."

"I was very happy to be chosen because Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most influential architects for myself; I have seen most of the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings all over the United States and in Japan."

Detail of Taliesin lights
Wright's work has influenced Ban's own architecture

Other exhibitions on show during Milan design week include textiles based on designer Ronan Boroullec's drawings and architect Paola Navone's giveaway Take It or Leave It exhibition.

The photography is by Giuseppe De Francesco.

The Harmony of Form and Function is on show from 18 to 22 April 2023 at Spazio 31 — Via Solferino, 31, Milan, Italy. See our Milan design week 2023 guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throughout the week.