The Japanese product design company Nendo has a way of hitting the perfect balance between playful design and serious dedication to materiality. In a recent profile of founding designer Oki Sato for Co.Design, he describes the feeling he hopes to evoke in his customers as an exclamation point. At this year’s Milan design week, Nendo is making good on that promise–with silicon vases that look and behave like jellyfish.
The aptly named Jellyfish Vases will debut in a fish tank at an installation called Invisible Outlines during the fair in early April. The vases—made of ultra-thin transparent silicon which has been dyed twice to feature a faint blue tinged with purple—are meant to blend in with the water so that only the silhouette is visible, and the flexible material will allow them to undulate and float like sea creatures.
In typical Nendo fashion, the installation flips a vase’s conventional use on its head: the floating vessels will be contained in water rather than containing water and flowers inside of their ply forms. “The design was to redefine the conventional roles of flower, water and vase by making the water inconspicuous, with an ensemble of both flowers and vases floating inside the filled water, as opposed to simply showing off flowers in a water-filled vase,” Nendo tells Dezeen.
At the design week exhibition, Nendo will display 16 other works for the first time, including collaborations with Glas Italia and Cappellini, according to Dezeen. Even without the splashy debut, however, the vases are stunning. Though Nendo’s prolific output continues apace, its proclivity toward irreverent and delightful designs doesn’t wane. It’s also a good time for debuting translucent jellyfish wares—they hit right at the intersection of design’s current infatuation with surrealism and iridescence.