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De­signer Kenzo Takada’s love for Ja­pan and France comes to­gether in a new col­lab­o­ra­tion with Roche Bobois.

More than five decades ago, when Kenzo Takada, 79, made his way to Paris to bet­ter un­der­stand fash­ion and give his fledg­ling de­signs grav­ity, lit­tle did he know that this jour­ney would be life chang­ing. Takada made Paris his home, chal­leng­ing es­tab­lished cou­ture la­bels of the time as his de­signer store Jun­gle Jap at­tracted a large fan base. His epony­mous la­bel, Kenzo, went on to storm Paris and the rest of the world given its novel aes­thetic and con­ser­vatism-be-damned at­ti­tude. In 1993 LVMH bought the la­bel and over the next few years Takada handed over, fi­nally re­tir­ing in 2000. But now, the de­signer has dipped his brush into in­te­rior de­sign and is once again cre­at­ing fab­u­lous stuff. His lat­est col­lab­o­ra­tion with Roche Bobois, a Parisian in­te­rior de­sign and fur­ni­ture firm, high­lights his Ja­panese aes­thetic which is vis­i­ble in the Mah Jong sofa, linen, even ce­ram­ics. Takada speaks to In­dia To­day Home about his lat­est col­lab­o­ra­tion.

How would you de­scribe your de­sign aes­thetic? I have worked through­out my ca­reer around colours, shapes and graph­ics, and ob­vi­ously flo­rals. As I am grow­ing older, I tend to be more sober, but I try to keep to my de­sign sen­si­bil­i­ties in­tact and stick with my cre­ative iden­tity. I am now more set­tled and use fewer of bright colours, but I try to main­tain a bal­ance.

What do you want people to feel about your de­signs?

I want them to see some­thing beau­ti­ful, har­mo­nious, and joy­ful that tells a story. These are the main el­e­ments I keep in mind when I cre­ate new de­signs.

De­scribe the Mah Jong sofa and what makes it spe­cial?

I wanted to bring a cer­tain Ja­panese touch to the graph­ics for the Mah Jong sofa. I ad­mire Ja­panese theatre and was in­spired by the ki­monos that ac­tors usu­ally wear, made out of jacquard, silk, cot­ton, and other textiles. The graph­ics are very par­tic­u­lar and not like other clas­sic ki­monos, as the play is typ­i­cally en­acted by men and was ini­tially per­formed by Samu­rai war­riors wear­ing masks. Once we nar­rowed down and se­lected the right graph­ics, we de­cided to choose dif­fer­ent times of the day to re­flect the colour themes. For ex­am­ple, we used crisp pas­tels for the morn­ing, bright colours for mid­day, and cool hues for the night. I thought it would bring a cer­tain ro­mance to the col­lec­tion and tell a story.

What fab­rics do you usu­ally favour?

I love to mix ma­te­ri­als. It is some­thing that can be worked on both for fash­ion cloth­ing as well as home dé­cor. I tend to favour jacquard since this lux­u­ri­ous fab­ric gives spe­cial depth.

Do you think col­lab­o­ra­tions are the way for­ward?

I think it is a great way for com­pa­nies to be more cre­ative and bring ex­cit­ing new prod­ucts to their cus­tomers. It also helps them to ex­pand be­yond their per­ceived iden­tity. Col­lab­o­ra­tions are al­ways in­ter­est­ing for me since I have al­ways been fond of bring­ing di­verse cul­tures and other in­flu­ences into my work.

Were there any chal­lenges you faced dur­ing the process?

At times it was dif­fi­cult to bring some ideas on the ta­ble, mostly from a tech­ni­cal stand point. It’s im­por­tant to know what you can do and what you can’t do. Roche Bobois gave me a lot of free­dom in the de­sign process and helped to over­come dif­fi­cul­ties.

As a de­signer, what have been your great­est in­flu­ences?

Both French and Ja­panese cul­tures are ex­tremely rich in his­tory and are in­spi­ra­tional. I am a Ja­panese man who has been liv­ing in France for more than 50 years now so my work re­flects that.

What is your de­sign mantra?

To re­main cu­ri­ous and look for pos­i­tiv­ity in the world.

JA­PAN MEETS FRANCE Vari­tions of the Mah Jong mod­u­lar sofa by Kenzo Takada

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