Yamawaki Iwao: A photo book of an architect

Yamawaki Iwao: A photo book of an architect


Yamawaki Iwao (1898–1987) was a Japanese architect, born as Fujita Iwao in Nagasaki. He studied architecture at the Tokyo School of Arts. In 1928 he married (into the family of) Yamawaki Michiko. Michiko (1910–2012) was the daughter of a prosperous Japanese family with a long tradition. In exchange with adopting the family name, Iwao asked for the support of the Yamawaki family to study at Bauhaus in Dessau. In October 1930, both Yamawaki Iwao and his wife Michiko became students at Bauhaus. After the foundation course Iwao focused on architecture while Michiko chose weaving. Based on the political development, the Yamawakis returned to Japan in 1932. The world known photo-collage »Der Schlag gegen das Bauhaus« (The blow against the Bauhaus) was created by Iwao who sensed the problematic situation of Bauhaus. After the the return to Japan, Yamawaki Iwao preceded his career as a leading architect and educator.

The book with the title IWAO YAMAWAKI shows 62 photos, the student identity card of Yamawaki and a picture of the couple Yamawaki. All images are in black and white and taken between 1930 and 1933. The photos are all related to the time Yamawaki Iwao and Michiko spend at the Bauhaus and showing stills (close up shots of objects), architectural details, portraits, scenes of the Bauhaus and products designed at Bauhaus.

The book is large and heavy: 323 x 345 x 24 mm (w x h x d). The layout is focused on the presentation of 62 plates in black and white, presented in the actual size of the photo print. Plenty of space is devoted to the photos in a simple layout. Each double page spread shows the same arrangement: a figure on the left and the photo on the right page, both of them centred. The choice of paper is an uncoated natural paper in off white.
The design of the book is clearly devoted to the presentation of the photography. Nothing decorative is added. Ingrid Sischy wrote a preface, introducing Yamawaki Iwao to the reader in three languages (German, English and French) and explaining the story of origin of this book. Sischy, who worked as an editor for The New York Times, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair (among others), writes that Karl Lagerfeld strongly encourage her to publish a book on Yamawaki’s photographic work. The book closes with a list of plates and the biography of Yamawaki Iwao.

Personal note:
I found this book through an online antiquarian bookshop after reading the biography of Yamawaki Michiko (»Bauhaus and the tea ceremony« from 1995), in which she has shown several images taken by her husband. I was curious to see an interpretation of Bauhaus through the eyes of Yamawaki Iwao, a Japanese architect.





Iwao Yamawaki.
Book Design: Gerhard Steidl
Typography: Klaus Detjen
Edition 7L Steidl, 1999
Preface: Ingrid Sischy