MONO JAPAN AIR
MONO JAPAN is an event and platform devoted to contemporary Japanese craft and design and cultural exchange between the Netherlands and Japan. Founded in 2016, MONO JAPAN presents a carefully curated selection of exceptional Japanese products at an annual fair at Amsterdam’s Lloyd Hotel, which includes presentations and workshops relating to Japanese culture.
In 2019, MONO JAPAN started a new venture to send Dutch designers to Japan for an artist-in-residency to collaborate with local Japanese craft companies. They chose three companies making products with traditional techniques: Aizu Shikki, who make lacquerware in Fukushima; Sekishu Washi, who make paper in Shimane; and Yoshida Shingi Shozoku, who make Shinto priest costumes in Kyoto.
The aim of the programme is for the Dutch designers to collaborate with the traditional craft makers to create a new product that fits modern lifestyles. It should be marketable and will be a symbol of Dutch-Japanese collaboration. This new venture was made possible with support from Stimuleringsfonds and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Japan.
The three winners were chosen from a shortlist of ten applicants at MONO JAPAN 2019 in early February.
In Kyoto, Yoshida Shingi Shozoku will be welcoming winner Maryam Kordbacheh, a Dutch designer based in Amsterdam. Kordbacheh graduated from ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem in 2009, and has since worked for Viktor & Rolf and Karl Lagerfeld. Her work is highly sculptural and she often works with techniques such as pleating, layering, and draping to create a three-dimensional effect. She now works as a freelance designer and has long admired Japan’s rich heritage of arts and crafts, as well as its simple and sensual approach to nature.
Yoshida is also excited to welcome Kordbacheh and to make new connections with the Netherlands.
“In the Edo period, Japan learned about western science and technologies from the Dutch. As we prepare to welcome in a new era with the new emperor, we hope that we can return the favour by sharing Japanese traditions with the Dutch,” says Yoshida.
As the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto is the traditional epicentre of Japan’s kimono industry and culture. It also has the highest concentration of temples and shrines in Japan, as people built many places to worship and pray for the city’s continued prosperity and safety from earthquakes. It therefore has a whole chain of companies that make ritual costumes for Shinto priests and officials, including Yoshida Shingi Shozoku. ‘Shozoku’ means ‘traditional vestments’. This is a unique company because they handle all different parts of the priest’s uniform, from the hat to the sandals. Yoshida collects the fabric from a weaver’s, sews the kimono, and then collects the shoes from the shoe maker and the hat from the milliners, and assembles the whole costume before delivering it to Shinto shrines. They are specialised in the “Kariginu”, a costume that Japanese noblemen wore in the Heian period, which is now worn widely by Shinto priests.
Yoshida is also a unique company because they have many young staff, and are eager to work with young designers to innovate, while still using the same traditional techniques that have been used for centuries.
MONO JAPAN hopes that Kordbacheh and Yoshida can create something exciting and fresh, opening new possibilities for the priest’s costumes.
MONO JAPAN Artist in Residence program: https://monojapan.nl/en/programme/mono-japan-artist-in-residence.html