KYOTO Design Lab Series III: Exploring Tango Chirimen – Scenario

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Image: KYOTO Design Lab

Japan House London continues the investigation of innovative design possibilities provided by chirimen, a type of silk crêpe made of flat-woven silk originating in the northernmost region of Kyoto Prefecture known as Tango, in this third event in collaboration with KYOTO Design Lab (D-lab) focussing on ‘Scenario’.

For a long time, chirimen has been conceptually restricted in its function due to its connection to kimono and, in contemporary times, to fashion. Looking deeper into the role of the textile industry in Kyōtango and the possibilities of building new design scenarios through technological innovation, this live panel discussion features presentations by Kusakabe Satoru, member of the executive committee for the 300th anniversary of TANGO CHIRIMEN Textile, and artist/designer Satomi Mika. Her collaborative project Dopple, involving a pleated 3D structure with woven-in conductive threads has been part of the exhibition Alternative Futures - contemporary design responses to the Tango chirimen tradition held from October to February 2021 in Tokyo, Kyoto and Kyōtango.

The panellists are also joined in conversation by Anne Toomey, Head of Programme and Reader in Smart Textiles at the Royal College of Art, as the guest Chair of this event.

Registered guests have the opportunity to ask questions to the speakers during this live, online event.

This series complements our latest exhibition MAKING NUNO Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko and the Tango chirimen display in The Shop on the Ground Floor at Japan House London.

About KYOTO Design Lab

KYOTO Design Lab (D-lab) is a platform for collaborations, founded by Kyoto Institute of Technology as an incubator for innovation in the fields of architecture and design.

About the Speakers:
Kusakabe Satoru

After graduating in 2006, Kusakabe worked as a corporate sales representative for an office equipment manufacturer. In 2014, he moved to his hometown in the Tango region and joined the Kyōtango City Office, assigned to the Commerce and Industry Division, Commerce and Tourism Department in 2017, where he was involved in several projects, such as the Textile Summer School, as a member of the Executive Committee for the 300th Anniversary of Tango Chirimen. In 2018, Tango textile producers exhibited at Maison et Objet in Paris for the first time, and he accompanied them to the exhibition as a member of the secretariat. Currently, he is engaged in the promotion of the textile industry in the region, including Tango Chirimen.

Satomi Mika

Satomi Mika is a designer and an artist working in the field of e-Textiles, Interaction Design and Physical Computing. Her work explores how we relate with technology and what we really want in them. She often collaborates with musicians and performers creating technology embedded costumes and interactive systems. Since 2006 Mika has collaborated with Hannah Perner-Wilson, forming an art collective duo KOBAKANT creating artistic projects in the field of e-Textiles and Wearable Technology Art. She is a co-author of the e-Textile online database How To Get What You Want. Currently she lives and works in Berlin, Germany. She is a guest professor at Weissensee Art Academy Berlin. She has been a researcher at the Swedish School of Textiles and at the Distance Lab, Scotland in the field of practice-based design research. She holds a BA in graphic design from Tokyo Zōkei University, and MA in media creation from IAMAS, Japan.

About the Chair
Anne Toomey

Anne Toomey is a textile design, colour and materials specialist with national and international experience in research-based design, product development, manufacture and student-centred education. She is head of Programme and Reader in Smart Textiles at the Royal College of Art. Anne's creative journey started with foundation studies at Medway College of Design, Rochester. From there she studied Fashion and Textiles at Brighton before entering the commercial world, designing and managing design for one of the UK’s leading emerging talents during the 1980s, Timney-Fowler. After designing and producing luxury accessories for knitwear designer Marion Foale in the late 1980s, Anne established her own luxury accessories business in 1990. Stockists included Harvey Nichols, Liberty, Fenwick and Fortnum & Mason in the UK and Barneys, Saks, Charivari and Bergdorf Goodman in the US, in addition to many independent stores and boutiques across Europe. She joined the Royal College of Art as a senior tutor in 1997 and became deputy head of textiles in 2004. During this time, she began her research into responsive, interactive and smart surfaces. This led to the founding of the P3i research group at Northumbria University’s satellite London campus and her appointment as reader within the group. She engaged with a range of multidisciplinary collaborators, including Akzo Nobel, the NASA Glenn Research Centre and global brands Philips and Unilever on advanced materials and fabrication methods for ‘smart’ surfaces.