Four months on from the Tohoku earthquake, as the restructuring efforts continue, The Miyake Issey Foundation’s research centre, 21_21 Design Sight, is holding a six day celebration of Tohoku culture and craftsmanship...
Who? Four months on from the Tohoku earthquake, as the restructuring efforts continue, The Miyake Issey Foundation’s research centre, 21_21 Design Sight, is holding a six day celebration of Tohoku culture and craftsmanship, with the celebrated fashion designer curating an exhibit focused on ‘Clothing’, featuring his own work, and some of the many essential articles produced by the Tohoku region.
What? In the aftermath of catastrophe, the most basic essentials for life can be listed as food, water, shelter and clothing, and it has been the provision of these necessities that have preoccupied Japan in the months following the Tohoku earthquake. However, this exhibition is a celebration of the non-essential skills that characterise the region, which have been a cornerstone of the traditional industry for centuries, and in whose creation lies the very ‘spirit’ of Tohoku, which must be reinvigorated to get the community back on their feet.
Why? A superlative craftsman, Miyake’s designs have always revolved around beautiful functionality, created with technical precision. His designs are a collision of immaculate tailoring and otherworldly inspiration; he is the master of pleating, a skill which allows his garments to articulate kineticism like few others, and his use of unconventional materials – wood, metal and recycled materials – renders his collections eternally avant-garde. Yet while his craftsmanship may seem unusual on the catwalks of Europe, the techniques are so often derived from the centuries old traditions of the Tohoku region, commonly viewed as the creative heartland of Japan. Following the disaster that has struck the area, with the collapse of so many industrial networks as well as families and communities that have been torn apart, Miyake’s exhibition is an ode to the ancient skills, donated by his geographical ancestors, which inform and enrich his work today. In celebrating these industries in the face of such extreme adversity, the spirit of Tohoku can be seen to flourish still.
The Spirit of Tohoku runs from July 26-31, 2011, at 21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo.
Text by Tish Wrigley