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Archives for June, 2012

An Idyllic Week in the French Countryside: A Traditional Guest House from Shimane Prefecture

June 29, 2012

Three days ago I returned from a week as a guest at Domaine de Boisbuchet, an idyllic design retreat in the rural area of  Lessac, France.  On site at Boisbuchet is a late Edo period (ca. 1860) guest house from Shimane Prefecture, Japan, which is beautiful–and beautifully sited on the grounds of a chateau, whose age is the same as the guest house.A view of the chateau from the Japanese guest house is shown, above.

A team of Japanese carpenters re-built this house on-site–they also stuccoed the house on-site, as well.

The contrast between traditional Japanese vernacular architecture with French style is striking.  Above is another view onto the chateau from the Japanese house.

Domaine de Boisbuchet is a heaven-on-earth and I urge you to peruse their website to learn more.  The summer workshops they offer to students and professionals are unparalleled in the quality of the content and in the world-class design professionals who lead the workshops.  And the feeling of camaraderie between the participants is a joy to behold, as is the spirit of innovation and critical thinking that abounds at Boisbuchet.  You may want to consider taking a workshop next summer.

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Sri at Biwa Restaurant, Portland, Oregon

June 16, 2012

Early last month I wrote a posting saying that I was happy to have a show at Biwa restaurant in Portland, Oregon.  The show’s been up for about six weeks now–it runs through the summer–and I thought I’d show some photos.Looking at these photos of happy people enjoying Biwa’s delicious Japanese food always gets me hungry.  And I love the way Kina and Gabe installed the textiles; beautifully done.Friends and I celebrated at Biwa after the opening of the show at the Portland Japanese Garden that was held last November.  I’ll always remember that wonderful night.  The food was delicious: I think we ordered more than one kimchi kara-age, which I first read about in Bon Appetit magazine, whose Andrew Knowlton here gives kudos to Gabe’s tori kara-age where the recipe is also shown.  I just wish I had tried the tan tan udon!

Wouldn’t you like to visit Biwa, too?

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Sou Sou Fabrics at Habu Textiles

June 15, 2012

Big news.  The wonderful, printed cotton textiles from Japan’s fantastic design giant, Sou Sou,  are now available online at Habu Textiles.  You may recall I mentioned Sou Sou in a recent blog posting and that I love Sou Sou’s aesthetic.

I am really pleased to know that Habu is carrying twelve different prints of these narrow (about 14″/ 35.5 cm) cotton fabrics–and more big news.  Habu’s now taking orders online.

Have a look and enjoy.

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Textures and Neutrals: Sakiori and Hemp

June 8, 2012

I think that we can all agree that one of the great allures of Japanese folk textiles is their texture, their warmth from human wear, and their unassuming beauty.   Without much forethought or planning, I set up this display in the showroom and I was struck by its beautiful mixture of textures and neutrals.Of course with Japanese folk textiles one doesn’t need to work hard to create beauty: the intrinsic beauty of the textiles calls out on its own.In the massive, hand hewn wooden bowl used for mixing soba flour I have place a roll of cotton warp, cotton weft sakiori (top left) similar to this one, an old piece of repaired, undyed hemp (top right), and on the bottom are two unmade sakiori sodenashi a sodenashi being a sleeveless work  jacket, this one having a hemp warp and a cotton weft.I like the tight spectral range and the rich textures of these pieces.  You can almost feel them without touching them.


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An Abundance of Bashofu

June 4, 2012

Big news for bashofu lovers–or big news in general.  My good friend and colleague, Kei Kawasaki who owns the superb Gallery Kei located in the heart of Kyoto, just mounted a monumental exhibition and sale of antique bashofu hagire (fragments of Okinawan banana fiber cloth) which ran from 19 – 23 May.This exhibition showed over 70 different types of basho weaving, from cloth woven entirely of banana fiber to those which are woven from banana fiber and cotton.The sheer amount and variety of bashofu pieces that were available for sale is staggering–especially given the scarcity of good material and its ever-increasing value.Kei gave her entire gallery over to bashofu for those four days, and I am sure it was a magical event for those who appreciate this fantastic cloth and who were able to attend.I really wish I could have been there, but I am really grateful to have received these photos–and that I am able to share them here.

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A “Boro” Shimacho: Stitched Stripe Album

June 1, 2012

Previously on this blog I’ve written posts on shimacho, or the albums of (primarily) striped hand woven cotton swatches that were kept by families as inspiration for weaving.   Shimacho are usually made by pasting swatches into a recycled book, often a ledger book or something similar.The one I am showing here today is a shimacho, but unlike other shimacho with glued swatches, in this book the small swatches of cotton cloth are stitched to each page.  The stitched effect is beautiful–and kind of “boro.”The book is as delicate as it appears: turning the pages requires patience and care, as you feel that the leaves may crumble under your touch.But exploring this book is irresistible–and the shimacho is probably more stable than I think.I have two books like this, veritable twins, and undoubtedly made by the same hand.  Funny, though, I had seen these on a previous trip to Japan and passed them by, thinking them to be messy, old, very destroyed shimacho that may not be able to be salvaged.  On this recent trip to Japan in March, I saw them again and noticed they were stitched–and I seized them.  Until that time I had never seen stitched shimacho like this.Unlike most of what I show on this blog, this book and its twin are not for sale.  I’m planning an exhibition and I’m hoping to show these at that time.There are probably about 30 pages in this book.And I love the multicolored stitching: why did the maker of this book change thread colors on each page?  Did she have multiple needles, each with a different color thread?  I doubt she threaded a new needle each time she changed colors…..such are the questions that arise when you inherit something personal like this, and when there is no background information to guide your thinking.

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