While learning to use indigo dye in Japan I was inspired by many traditional books on methodology and history. However the most surprising inspiration was the catalogues from the unique clothing design store: Kapital. These books are cram packed full of ideas to inspire using traditional indigo dyeing and sewing techniques in a non-traditional way. The book Blue Hands, is a photographic tribute, by Toshinori Nishimura, to the workers at Kapital. Nishimura was hired by Kapital designer Mr. Hirata, to take portraits of the artisans for the website. He photographed the “sewing plant, processing plant, ironing plant, shops and designing & planning devision for several days every month to take their pictures. Communication with the artisans started through this project”. The result is a homage to the craftsmanship of the workers at this factory and Japanese workmanship, in general. The book and catalogues inspired a visit to the Kapital shop and I was able to visit two shops in Roppongi and Ebisu. The atmosphere of the shops are surprisingly ramshackle and creative; using materials that are readily available and embellishing the wabi sabi look. Once inside, the clothing and accessories are displayed on hanging racks and cubbies with bric a brac strategically and artistically placed.
The creativeness of the indigo pieces are awe inspiring and, short of a photographic memory the catalogues are a good reminder of the creativeness of the objects. For instance, being in Tokyo on Halloween the shops had their varieties of pumpkins; one made out of an orange shiny baseball jacket and one made in the “boro” style. The bench outside the shop reflects the haphazard but beautiful combination of materials.
So that brings me to the catalogues themselves. I managed to locate 4 catalogues from various “Kapital Years”. Max Island came out in 2007. Here are some of the pages that show design ideas presented in this 196 page catalogue.