Better Together…East West Collaborations

“Mr. Moore came from the outside and saw the beauty of Hino and its old homes that the locals had grown blind to. He showed us how to breathe life back into old houses and make them shine again.”
-Ryojun Manda, local history museum director

One of the conversations I have often had with both Japanese and Western friends is the way in which a mix of the cultures so often yields a result better than the original. Whether it be the ongoing collaboration amongst women organizing the CWAJ Print Show or the efforts of Amy Katoh and others to validate and thus perpetuate local artisanal crafts, there is something about outside interest that has helped the Japanese see the magic of their traditional arts and culture themselves. Collaborations between the two create a magic of their own.

Quite a few new and old Japan collaborations have been crossing my radar lately, including this restored 150 year old house in Hino, Japan via The Wall Street Journal. An American, Austin Moore, and his Japanese wife Sachiko have spent the last 12 years breathing new life into a rambling old dwelling about an hour outside of Kyoto.

While some of the spaces have been restored to pure Japanese perfection…

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…it is the ones that are an amalgam of East and West that I find particularly interesting. Attached to the house are a few kura or storehouses, traditionally used to store valuables at risk from fire and earthquakes. Key rooms, such as this dining room, are housed in the kura and the weighty-ness of them makes them feel akin to log houses. The mix of Western furniture and Japanese detail creates a warm hodge-podge that feels infinitely more livable than the bare bones furniture that would normally be found there.

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The bedroom has a spindle bed from Moore’s childhood home in Massachusetts.

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The thick earthen walls and sturdy doors of the kura are so ancient in design yet modern.

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Also in my box this week was news from Anthropologie on their new collaboration with the Japanese cult denim brand Kapital. “Inspired by vintage American wear, each piece is reinterpreted through a distinctly Japanese lens with an emphasis on quality, character and a passion for monozukuri, the Japanese concept of craftsmanship.”

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The clothes got me to thinking about some of the authentic characters I would see around shrine sales in Japan. When I could, I would surreptitiously snap their photos. I’ve seen this lady in her coat made from a vintage piece of tsutsugaki a few times…

tsutsugaki coat kawagoe

…and I am always on the watch for someone in baggy Japanese work pants. Somehow I’ve been sure they would be a coming fashion craze, and a scroll through the Anthropologie Kapital collection reinforces that idea. Remember those kasuri work pants? I probably should have bought them.

indigo lady

Kapital is of course exploring modern boro, the Japanese literal meaning being tattered rags, based on these oft-patched and stitched traditional textiles. These jeans are actually from one of their shops in Tokyo, featured on the Anthro blog.

boro jeans kapital

Of great interest to me are the limited edition books accompanying the collaboration, including Kottoichi Sunrise Market and Kottoichi Women, which are a behind-the-scenes peek into the brand’s journey across Japan documenting the “kottoichi,” antique markets set in the midst of beautiful Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Talk about the story of my life these past nine years. I feel homesick just looking at the covers.

kottoichi sunrise marketKottoichi Women

Related Posts:
What Do Giorgio Armani and Alex Kerr Have in Common?
Feeling Fresh…Indigo Textiles and Tenugui

More Repurposed Kimono Fabrics…Purses from Cheeky Leopard

As a quick follow-up to last week’s DIY post, for those who are not into sewing and want a purse right now, Katie Gordon of Cheeky Leopard is making lovely clutch bags out of vintage Japanese textiles too.  There has been a spate of birthday gifts circling my friends right now and this is the lovely one I received.  My friends had no trouble picking as it actually screamed my name!
cheeky leaopard mine

Some others recently given include this one…

cheeky leopard jill

…and this one. One of her signatures is the contrast lining found inside the bags.


She even makes them out of Japanese indigo fabric for a more casual feel.

cheeky leopard boro indigo

Tiny coin purses, eyeglass cases and small cosmetic bags are also available in cheeky little prints!

cheeky leopard teapot coin purse

Cheeky Leopard is based out of Tokyo, but she has an Etsy shop and sells all over the world!

Related Post:
Modern and Ancient Collide…Obi iPad and Kindle Case DIY

All photos via Katie Gordon of Cheeky Leopard

Tie Dye Heaven…Painterly Effects from Monique Lhuillier and Eskayel

I wasn’t due for another post yet, but the juxtaposition of this extraordinary Monique Lhuillier gown worn by Sarah Michelle Gellar to the Golden Globes last night and a half written post about Eskayel‘s new collection of rugs for Doris Leslie Blau sent me straight to my computer. While I have written about shibori (Japanese tie dye) before I have never seen such a literal and amazingly modern translation of this traditional art form as that dress. Say what you like, and I know some have put this on their “worst dressed” list (although many more on the “best dressed”), it truly is a spectacular show stopper!

Lluillier has some other dresses with that shibori feeling, but they also remind me of artist Shanan Campanaro’s amazing fabrics and wall coverings for Eskayel.

Having written about them before, it may come as no surprise to see them here again, although this time, translated into carpets for the floor in her new collection with rug doyenne Doris Leslie Blau.

Campanaro’s digitally manipulated watercolors have been re-colored in this new collection. You’ll need to stare closely at her Dynasty wallpaper hanging next to the new Dynasty rug to see that they are the same pattern, just colored and highlighted differently.

She also features some great new projects on the Eskayel blog, including this apartment from Jami Supsic Designs.

Those Wegner Wishbone chairs again.

They are everywhere and come in the most amazing colors these days…

This dark blue Samui Sunrise paper is so cozy and welcoming in the bedroom.

Another project by designer Sylvia Reyes uses Eskayel’s Aquarius wallpaper to great effect in this Puerto Rico apartment.

And guess what? Eskayel wallpaper is now available in Japan at Walpa. Walpa carries all the “cool wallpaper brands” and is looking to bring a new appreciation for patterned walls to Japan.

Related Posts:
A Little Shibori Feeling From Eskayel and Anthropologie

Image credits: 1. via temptalia, 2-5. via Neiman Marcus, 6. via Eskayel, 7. via New York Magazine November 2011, photo credit: Wendy Goodman, 8-9, 12. Jami Supsic Designs, via Eskayel, 10-11. Danish Design Store,  13-14. Sylvia Reyes via Eskayel

Gift Guide…Cozy Sheepskin is Where it is At

OK, OK, I know this is not quite my regular type of post, but what’s a girl to do when she is sick, the kind of sick that leaves you with no working brain cells at all, laden with stressed out children (must they have 10 tests in one week?) and none of the shopping for the holidays done?  We are headed out to the northeast in just two days and I know it is going to be cold there and I am dreading that part of it. So here is a post to getting cozy!

In searching for the perfect gift for my soon to be teenaged daughter, I stumbled across these Kimono patterned Ugg boots. I still don’t really see the charm of Uggs, but the girls all love them and they certainly are warm and snuggly. Adding the great Japanese inspired pattern has somehow made them more interesting to me and they are available in different colors and heights.

Another short model has a stylized Japanese flower on the front, instead of the all-over pattern, but seriously, Ugg boots with shorts? That is about 50 climate degrees apart.

Anyway, to really make this a valid post I should whip out some interior with Japanese inspired wallpaper or fabric or something, but I feel like I have shown lots of those rooms before and if you want to see some gorgeous examples, go out and buy Katie Ridder’s Rooms (Thanks Wendy!!!!). Instead, I am going to focus on the boots being made from sheepskin, as we have been seeing a big trend over the last few years of skins casually, but most deliberately, being thrown over chairs to warm up interiors. There was that great room of Julianne Moore’s a few years ago in Domino  – finally found the photo at apartment therapy

These days you can’t turn around without spotting one!  I do particularly remember Design Sponge featuring Emma Reddington’s gorgeous Toronto townhouse not that long ago where there were examples to be found in almost every room, from these Bertoia style chairs in the parlor…

…to this cozy spot in her study.

Notice how they always look best with a classic modern chair! For more great ideas, check out a recent post on the subject at Remodelista.  A great idea for those of us in uninsulated chilly Tokyo houses!

Finding this post a little weak? Sorry, I know! But I have to get back to packing and internet shopping, my hot tea and attempting to provide study help in a language I don’t really speak…

Tokyo Jinja

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