the work of issey miyake
« Never fully satisfied by his success, Issey Miyake has constantly taken his curiosity one step further, driving his teams mad with his constant and challenging requests. The story of his life has been landscaped by creative encounters with people from all other disciplines such as artists, designers, choreographers and photographers, feeding his thirst for knowledge. Rarely before has such creativity ever existed.” – Lidewij Edelkoort
Issey Miyake has consistently presented new methodologies and possibilities for making clothes, while always focusing on the future. It all began in 1960 when Miyake, a student at Tama Art University, sent a letter to the World Design Conference, which was being held for the first time in Japan that year. The letter took issue with the fact that clothing design was not included in the event. At that point, Miyake’s notion that clothing is not merely “fashion” – i.e., something that changes with the times – but a form of design that is closely connected to our lives on a much more universal level was already apparent. Miyake has always explored the relationship between a piece of cloth and the body, and the space that is created as a result, unrestricted by any existing framework. In addition, along with his team of designers, he persistently undertakes research and development to create clothing that combines both innovation and comfort.
The exhibition « Miyake Issey Exhibition » sheds light on Miyake’s ideas about making things and his approach to design by examining his entire career, from his earliest work to his latest projects, and his explorations of greater creative possibilities in the future. This exhibition provides viewers with an opportunity to expand the boundaries of their thought and stimulate their creativity, allowing everyone, young and old alike, to experience the joy of creation.
Using a single piece of cloth to create a piece of clothing is his main creative quest, but also an ethical choice. By doing so, in fact, he can develop new shapes, while enhancing the beauty and texture of the fabric and reducing its waste to virtually zero, in respect of the environment. As a result, the almost abstract forms that derive from a single piece of cloth free the body from any constriction, while reacting differently to different body shapes, making clothing truly personal, in an unfussy, immediate way. One room in the exhibition explores the main themes of Issey Miyake’s innovative drive and groups them in thematic clusters. A link unites them in a whole, however, because in the design studio cross-pollination is an essential practice.
Fabric is pivotal: a maker of things, Issey Miyake believes that any material can be turned into clothing. He used Japanese washi paper, horsehair and raffia; conversely, he has rediscovered traditional materials. But he has also experimented special treatments giving surfaces an alive, animal look, as well as exploring futuristic fabrics, such as a polyester that is heat-cut and molded into shape with the aid of just snap buttons. Miyake has also developed treatments based on the idea of re-use, like the Starburst series which acquire a new look after the foil is pressed on the fabric surface, or the needle-punching that produces unique textures by laying layers of different materials.
Pleats is a theme that crosses a large dent of the Miyake production. Working first with blends of polyester and natural fibers, then with a specially developed weave of polyester that can be heat processed, Issey Miyake turned pleats, one of the most ancient ways to wrap a three dimensional object with a two-dimensional material, into an expression of aesthetic pureness with a pragmatic aim. He developed a special process of “garment pleating”, which means that a piece of clothing is pleated after it is sawn, resulting in very sharp, defined lines. Pleats allowed Miyake the opportunity of working with shapes that laid flat have almost a purely abstract quality – a staircase, a circle, a flying saucer – playing with the space between body and clothing, but pleats and specifically the “garment pleating” process he devised, ultimately provided the solution to one of Miyake’s dreams to create clothing as universal as jeans and T-shirts, and allowed the creation of a whole new species of utilitarian clothes, at once inventive, sturdy and extremely practical. Freeing the movement was the aim, and in fact these solutions were first tested for the William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt, and later introduced into the collection, finally culminating in the launch of PLEATS PLEASE in 1993. The exhibition actively shows the pleating process as well, revealing the keen engineering that is required in order to pleat a piece that is already sewn.
Making things: this is how Issey Miyake defines his activity. Wearable things, in his views, have to be made in respect of the individual as well as in respect of the environment. A-POC and 132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE are the result of such convictions, almost thirteen years apart from one another. A-POC is a revolutionary process that Miyake developed with Dai Fujiwara in 1998, that allows to shape clothes integrally through the production of a tubular piece of knit fabric, virtually erasing all waste while doing away with cutting and sewing. Starting in knit, and evolving in wovens, A-POC is the one piece of cloth quest brought to levels of groundbreaking invention.
Launched in 2010, 132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE has been developed inside Miyake’s Reality Lab., a think tank cum design collective crossing boundaries and disciplines. Using recycled polyester as material and techniques inspired by the algorithms, a new breed of clothes is born: items that can be completely folded into flat, geometric shapes, and that only gain life through the body movements of those who unfold them and wear them. As such, this technology has been extended beyond clothes making: similar shapes made with the same folding technique characterize in fact the IN-EI ISSEY MIYAKE lamps made with recycled PET bottles.
MIYAKE ISSEY EXHIBITION: The Work of Miyake Issey
March 16 – Mon., June 13, 2016 at The National Art Center, Tokyo