Archive for July, 2009

Parking lots

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Ed Ruscha
Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles 1967

Ed Ruscha’s Dodger Stadium, 1000 Elysian Park Ave. (detail) from Thirty-Four Parking Lots (1967)

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Dodger Stadium today, Google Maps 2009

Thanks to a comment left by my friend Dan in response to this previous post, I discovered Ed Ruscha’s Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles 1967. Ed Ruscha hired a helicopter to fly over L.A. early one Sunday morning in 1967 and shot a whole series of vacant parking lots. Beautiful patterns. Brilliant.

The beauty of Google Maps is that I can fly over all the parking lots, in any city, in any part of the world, and I don’t have to hire a helicopter! Not quite the same I know but … it’s great (if you try to ignore the whole Big Brother thing)!

More images from Ed Ruscha’s set can be seen here.

Tenugui

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I’m immersed in thoughts of Japan …all this talk about furoshiki, dreaming of friends in Tokyo while I sleep, and wishing I was there right now for a week of Tokyo summer with my husband on his business trip … I miss it. Still.

It’s been almost two years since we left and seems like a lifetime ago. I must get back there some time, before it just becomes a figment of my imagination!

While we were living in Tokyo I fell in love with tenugui – a short length of printed cotton 33cm x 90cm. The name ‘tenugui’ indicates ‘that for wiping hands’, however it was originally used as a towel when taking a bath, or for covering the head like a scarf. Similar to the versatile furoshiki, tenugui can be used in multiple ways – used to wipe your brow on a humid day, as a kitchen towel, for wrapping, given as a gift, tied as a bandana, used as a handkerchief, or even ripped up into bandages (the edges are left unfinished). Tenugui are still used in everyday life in Japan – on the heads or around the necks of workmen, or in festivals, given as thank you gifts or handed out as promotional pieces for businesses. The uses are endless.

The printed patterns on tenugui immediately seduced me and were the main inspiration behind my initial interest in printed textiles. I’ve always loved the everyday object, the random or not so random array of overlooked details that surround us. When Japans Edo Period (1603-1868) saw the development of popular culture, fine designs based on features of everyday life were created in abundance. Graphic designs depict useful objects, kitchen tools, animals, even grains of rice! Some are simply geometric patterns.

Recently new, more cost effective digital techniques are being used for printing tenugui, but the traditional form of printing tenugui still remains, requiring skilled workmanship. The traditional technique results in a design that beautifully carries through the fabric, so the design appears on both sides.

I collected many tenugui while I was living in Japan. I couldn’t resist them! And of course now is the season for tenugui; during the hot and humid days and summer festivals, you can find different designs in abundance!

Here I’d like to share a few Tenugui that I particularly like from my collection. Some I use regularly, some are kept unused.

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Soon, to follow on, I’ll post some material from my experience on a course in Tokyo
printing some tenugui in the traditional way.

Stuff

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Lovely colours : )

Furoshiki design

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space-to-think was commissioned by Samsonite Japan to design a limited edition novelty ‘furoshiki’* (90 x 90 cm traditional wrapping cloth) to be presented alongside the launch of their new line of limited edition Cabin Size suitcases launched in May.

Using three colours on chirimen (traditional Japanese crepe cloth), we wanted the design to compliment and add a little burst of colour to the Cabin Size suitcase range (beige, apricot, brown) – something a little retro and fun, that would appeal to customers of a 30-60 year old age group.

As Samsonite is all about travel, it seemed obvious to me that the idea behind this furoshiki design would be ‘movement’. Keeping in mind the multi-purpose function of furoshiki, an important aspect of the design was to create something that worked as a beautiful pattern when folded, but when the furoshiki was spread out in full, the image worked in it’s entirety. By using repeated shapes and patterns rushing across the fabric, I wanted to create a sense of movement and direction in the imagery. In addition to that, the swallow being a true traveler – fast, agile and migratory – leant itself perfectly to the overall concept. See some sketches for the project here.

I was very excited to be invited to work on this project, especially as I have a passion for traditional Japanese textiles … and it was very enjoyable to have the opportunity to work with Kyoko, at Samsonite in Tokyo. I look forward to future creative collaborations!

* Furoshiki
The Japanese Ministry of the Environment promotes the use of furoshiki as an eco friendly, alternative way to wrap gifts and to carry things around. The name ‘furoshiki’ translates as ‘bath spread’ as it was once most used for wrapping people’s clothes at the Public Bath houses. They are also used for bundling up or gift-wrapping all sorts of things from lunch boxes or books, to watermelons and bottles of wine!

Birds eye patterns

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While cruising over Downtown (virtually speaking) I got very excited by these patterns. Wow. Lots of inspiration from flying!

Cushion

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My cushion features in a photoshoot for Natural Health Magazine! Fabric designed by Japanese designers spoken words project from Cocca. Photo by Deborah Jaffe.


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