Jun Takahashi: “To Me, Anarchy Means to Be Mentally Free”

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AN41 Jun Takahashi
Portrait by Taro Mizutani

The Japanese designer reflects on the philosophy of punk, and the importance of everyday rebellion

This article is taken from the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue of AnOther Magazine.

“To me, anarchy means to be mentally free. Important is not the right word – this is the basic principle of my life. I’ve rebelled against almost everything. I first encountered the anarchy symbol in music and movies – as a kid, I loved media with strong characteristics. I felt digging into those arts was anarchic and liberating. People who seek spiritual liberation are anarchists. This philosophy is deeply rooted within me, so it’s difficult for me to explain in words. It is not about my design in particular, it is more about my perspective of the world and how I come up with designs. Something invisible. Recently I applied a circle-A, the anarchy symbol and an iconic emblem of punk culture, to the back of a simple chair [as part of a collaboration with interior designer Kazuya Sasaki]. It expresses the idea of punk spirit settled into daily life. There is controversy of some sort in any time or age – questioning and rebelling are essential. Anarchists exist in every era.”

Jun Takahashi is an avowed design anarchist, with an affinity for punk that goes beyond sentiment: he was the lead singer of a cover band named the Tokyo Sex Pistols, and his fashion label Undercover continues a spirit of rebellion and nonconformity that stems straight from the culture-shattering creations Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren filled their King’s Road shop with in the 70s. His earliest pieces, shortly after he established his brand in 1990 while a student at the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, were collaged T-shirts in the Seditionaries mould; his move to showing in Paris from 2002 marked not only a new sophistication of technique but a continued and continual rebellion in aesthetic. It’s not post punk, because for him punk never stopped.

This article originally featured in the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue of AnOther Magazine which is on sale now. Head here to purchase a copy.