--The art and culture festival "Japonismes 2018" is being held in France to commemorate 160 years of Japanese and French friendship. I understand that the special project "Tandem Paris-Tokyo 2018 FUROSHIKI PARIS," a cultural exchange event between Tokyo and Paris, used furoshiki (wrap cloth) created by designers from the Creative Division?
Takamine：Shiseido is participating in Japonismes 2018 in a variety of ways, including cooperating with shows and exhibitions. Tandem Paris-Tokyo 2018 FUROSHIKI PARIS is a project that introduces furoshiki as a symbol of Japanese culture, the so-called "world's first eco-bag."
The Creative Division wanted to make use of Shiseido's design ability at the workshops held as part of this project, which demonstrated the appeal and use of furoshiki.
Kikuchi：We tried to liven things up by choosing strong designs via a competition format, and that led to the participation of 20 designers, ranging from young people to veterans. The furoshiki of the top three, chosen by votes, were used in the workshop.
--How were the designs created?
Takamine：The only condition was that designers had to incorporate the Camellia Flower logo that symbolizes Shiseido; they could design the rest as they pleased.
Kikuchi：The relationship between Shiseido and France started a long time ago; Shiseido's founder Arinobu Fukuhara experienced the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900, and his son Shinzo, the first company president, spent about a year in Paris in 1913 strengthening relationships with many artists. Following this, packaging and advertisements for Shiseido cosmeticsincluded elements of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco that he studied in France.
This "Shiseido Style," which incorporated French influence into an aesthetic sense born of Japanese culture, has been continuously passed along to our current designers.
On this occasion, our theme was creating Japanese-French hybrids for Japonismes 2018, but we wanted each designer to freely express the quintessential "Shiseido-ness" within themselves.
Takamine：When you look at the products, no two are alike, and each conveys the feeling of the Shiseido design aesthetic.
--I hear that when you held the competition, you hosted the Furoshiki Exhibition within the company and collected votes?
Takamine：Yes. As well as lining up all the pieces on a wall so they were visible as graphics, we had the designers propose how their furoshiki would look like when wrapping an object, and exhibited them like that. What object was used and how it was wrapped was free choice, and there were those who wrapped fruit as well as stacked boxes or bottles, making each furoshiki shine with individuality.
Around 300 votes were cast in total, mainly by employees working in the Shiseido Ginza Building.
--As for the pieces chosen as the top three - what kind of pieces were they?
Kikuchi：Kaori Kondo's work "Kasane (Layering)" builds up patterns on patterns and color on color, evoking the interest of a Japanese kimono, which changes appearance depending on how it is worn and moved. As the designer herself said, "As a result of testing this by tying it countless times, I discovered that if you change the colors of the four corners, you can create dynamic change depending on how you tie the furoshiki." I think people valued the fact that this furoshiki demonstrated different charms depending on what object it was wrapping and how it was wrapped.
Takamine：Midori Matsuishi's "Camellia Mizuhiki" uses a mizuhiki (paper cord) representing camellia, which is also Shiseido's symbol, as a motif. It has a classic appearance as a furoshiki, and was widely popular among both men and women. It was impressive that a fresh hydrangea flower was kept alive in the wrapped vase during the exhibition.
Additionally, Asako Hase's "Harmony of Japan and France Pattern" combined patterns and decorations from Japan and France, uniting elements of both in perfect balance. Perhaps that was why many of our employees, aware of its affinity with the theme of Japonismes 2018, selected it.
Kikuchi：It's not just a simple collage; I believe that by drawing it by hand, the designer has properly assimilated the design, and distilled it into their own expression.
I found it particularly interesting that, as Kondo noted in her comment, the furoshiki has a very different appearance when wrapped around an item to when spread out as a graphic.
There were three types of designers involved in this project: a spatial designer, a packaging designer, and a communication designer who handles graphics and movies. However, strangely, the three who were chosen through the competition were all packaging designers. I imagine that this is because they, as designers of 3D items in their regular work, carefully calculated the shape and colors of the furoshiki when wrapped and applied this to a flat surface.
--I hear that you were also particular about the spatial design of the Furoshiki Exhibition.
Takamine：Yes. Momoko Kishino, a spatial designer, planned an exhibition space that allowed us to better show the appeal of the pieces there. We were working on the spatial design in parallel with the furoshiki designs, and after seeing the collected designs we tested our ideas, taking into account the opinions of the exhibitors, and tried and incorporated numerous creative ideas right up to the end.
The stands that displayed the wrapped objects all had slightly different heights, and were arranged in tiers so that you could see all of the furoshiki when you stood at the front. Plus, we created an interactive corner visitors could actually take displayed furoshiki in their hand and look them over. I felt that we made a beautiful and fun space that offered three multifaceted ways of looking at furoshiki.
--What was the feedback from the workshops in Paris?
Takamine：There were a total of eight workshops held each weekend during November 2018, with a wide range of participants from small children to elderly men and women. Each workshop was fully attended, and a great success. I was able to go and observe for myself, and was delighted to directly meet everyone as they learned and became familiar with Japanese culture and were amazed at the way a single furoshiki could completely change appearance depending on how it is wrapped and tied. We gifted everyone the furoshiki that they used to remember the occasion, and they were all really thrilled.
We had decided from the start that the top three furoshiki would be used in the workshop, but members of Tokyo Metropolitan Government who saw our Furoshiki Design Exhibition suggested that we set up the same exhibition in Paris, where we thankfully had the chance to display all 20 pieces.
--What were the reactions of the designers who participated in the competition?
Kikuchi：Normally the designers are responsible for particular brands, and create designs to meet the brands' aims and reach their intended audience. In that context, I think that they likely had some difficulties and also enjoyed deciding everything themselves for a furoshiki design that they could create freely, starting with "Who am I designing for?"
Takamine：The participating designers also had one vote each, and some said that by seeing other people's designs, they learned about the concepts used.
Above all, I believe that the experience of exhibiting their designs abroad in Paris was great encouragement and motivation especially for new designers.