Junya Ishigami makes a splash at Barbican's Curve gallery

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The Independent Culture

Nothing in the world of Junya Ishigami quite conforms to type. Chairs wear hats, socks and little sweaters knitted in fine-ply cream mohair; tables are paper thin and three-meters long and ripple when touched; huge metal boulders float up to the sky. Even the architecture he makes can be so immaterial as scarcely to exist. The piece he has just installed in the Barbican's Curve gallery, for example – constructed from hand-rolled carbon columns that are 0.9mm thick, and secured by crossbracing threads of just 0.2mm – is almost impossible to see. It's about as tantalisingly stealthy as architecture can be.

Ishigami, 37, is a bit of a hipster with his scanty beard and shoulder-length hair, skinny black jeans and skinnier jacket. He spent a few years at the cultish SANAA, the Tokyo practice led by Ryue Nishizawa and Kazuyo Sejima who designed last year's Serpentine Pavilion (it resembled a highly polished metal cloud) and in 2004, he set up his own studio. The installation he took to Art Basel in 2006 – the aforementioned long table, topped with a carefully curated series of domestic objects, which appeared to hover above its metal surface – was a huge hit.

Ishigami likes an optical illusion. And he likes allusions, especially to weather – the Curve piece is based on the fineness of raindrops and cloud droplets, which at 1mm and 0.01mm respectively eclipse the etherealness of his carbon columns by, well, millimetres.

Junya Ishigami: Architecture as Air, Barbican Curve, London EC2 (www.barbican.org.uk) to 16 October