-- The design for Shiseido's product catalog (for internal use) is completely different from the previous designs. What was the catalyst for this change?
Kamamura: When I took charge of this area of work, I wanted to use the opportunity to create a product catalog different from conventional ones. Many of the existing catalogs were designed using products. This year, we received a request to come up with a design that makes the new SHISEIDO logo stand out instead. As we were exploring designs from all possible angles, there were suggestions to use models as well as to present the "S" in the SHISEIDO logo in graphic form. However, this time, we decided against taking the simple approach of using graphic design. Instead, we arrived at the final decision of using an embroidered design in order to create a sense of texture, of temperature, and of the hands of a person.
-- Overall, the design creates an impression that is both gorgeous and adorable. Could you tell us about the themes used for this design?
Kamamura: The themes used this time were "MAKE UP DOKIDOKI" (dokidoki - Jap.: pit-a-pat) and "MAKE UP KIRAKIRA" (kirakira - Jap.: sparkle). First of all, we felt that make-up generates a sense of excitement and sparkle. At Shiseido, our products are our lives. We wanted to create a cover that thrills those who hold the catalog in their hands, to make their hearts beat with excitement and sparkling joy. Of the two versions of the catalog, the red Catalog 1 expresses the emotion of joy with golden tears (shown on the bottom-left of the cover). The blue Catalog 2 expresses excitement, surprise and anticipation for what will happen in the future (shown on the bottom-right of the cover). One of the key points is that faces are hidden in each of the designs. Hearts representing kisses and glittering jewels continue from the back cover to the front cover, and play the role of connecting the back and the front.
-- You collaborated with the embroidery artist ETSUSHI. How did this come about?
Kamamura: I first saw ETSUSHI's works at an exhibition. The walls were densely decorated with small embroidery works, and I think there must have been more than 100 pieces. Each of these works was very attractive and had a different appearance. I was drawn by the power of their forms, the unique strength of their characters, and the impact of the patterns and colors. From then on, for some time I thought of collaborating with ETSUSHI, and I believe we have brought that to fruition in a good way through this catalog.
-- How was the embroidery used in all the motifs produced?
Kamamura: We did not use the type of embroidery that is typically sewn onto a piece of cloth. Instead, we employed the unique method of using a sewing machine to embroider many layers of thread onto cloth that is soluble in water. Finally, the cloth is dissolved in water, and the piece of embroidery is taken out. A massive quantity of thread is used, and the appeal lies in the unique thickness that is produced as a result.
-- Many of the motifs are adorable with bright colors that really pop.
Kamamura: The motifs created by ETSUSHI do not necessarily have a strong and distinctive image or follow any rules. Rather, as he told me, many of them have been spun out instinctively based on ideas that just come to mind in his everyday life. In harnessing these free and unique patterns and shapes, the issue that we faced was the extent to which we should fuse them with Shiseido's designs. I think we spent quite a lot of time discussing how to reconcile the ideas and images in our minds. I conveyed the forms, colors, and patterns of the motifs, and ETSUSHI made use of this information to create his art. We came up with the final image after repeated revisions and trial-and-error on both ends. We struggled particularly to match the sensibility of the colors, but once we had identified the direction that we were both satisfied with, we were able to surge toward the finish line.
-- The handwritten characters also create an excellent texture.
Kamamura: I wrote them using charcoal and Japanese paper (washi). This is because my personal history is somewhat unusual, as I spent more than 20 years studying calligraphy. I was enrolled in the Department of Calligraphy, Faculty of Literature at Daito Bunka University for seven years, which is regarded as a gateway to success for calligraphers. I could have just become a professional calligrapher after graduating, but my interest in design was piqued after creating a business card and catalog for a friend. My friend jumped for joy after receiving the works I had created. After experiencing this great joy, I realized the immense power of design to make people happy. Hence, I went on to pursue my studies in design at graduate school, and joined Shiseido after graduating.
-- Joining Shiseido after learning calligraphy for 20 years is a personal history like no other, isn't it?
Kamamura: That's true. I think it is quite unusual. There was also an idea to decorate this catalog graphically with my calligraphy. Upon taking up the design by myself, some said that I could exhibit more of the artistic character of Kamamura. Consequently, we proceeded in two directions--the artistic character of ETSUSHI, and the artistic character of Kamamura. I had originally been pushing for the embroidery proposal, so we ultimately adopted ETSUSHI's embroidery idea. If the opportunity arises, I would also like to take up the challenge of launching a design that is based entirely on calligraphy.
-- What did you feel was the most rewarding aspect of this work?
Kamamura: More than anything, I was overwhelmed to have been able to work with an artist with such a strong personality as ETSUSHI. Since this was my first opportunity to work with an artist, I found it to be a very valuable experience. In addition, it was rewarding for me personally to have spent a long time finding a satisfying balance in the layout of the embroidery. As ETSUSHI had produced wonderful pieces of embroidery, I felt that we had the responsibility to come up with a layout that showcased these works in the best way. In order to recreate the vivid colors of the works, I also met with the staff at the printing factory and put in a passionate request, saying, "This catalog is simply too exciting and incredible! Please help us to convey that with the best printing quality possible!" Anyhow, I was simply very passionate about it (laughs).
-- The end product is an exciting pop catalog that conveys your passion, isn't it?
Kamamura: When the creator has put much passion and fervor into the product, the person who holds it will feel happy, and the product will also leave an impression in their minds. Of course, we faced difficulties and troubles during the production, but I was able to truly experience what it means to see something through to the end.