On an unseasonably warm night in October, we were fortunate to host our dear friends and collaborators Doug Johnston and Tomoe Matsuoka for a very special lecture in partnership with Philadelphia's annual design festival, DesignPhiladelphia.
DesignPhiladelphia is the oldest design festival of its kind in the nation, and for ten days each October, our city becomes an epicenter of dialogue around fashion, architecture, and art, with establishments throughout the city putting their best foot forward to provide engaging content. This year's theme was centered around the concept of "Home", so inviting Doug and Tomoe to speak was an obvious choice, as their gorgeous baskets and trays have made their way into the homes of pretty much everyone here on the Rikumo team.
Doug and Tomoe are artists and fabricators who are known for creating alarmingly beautiful vessels in their Brooklyn studio that skirt the line between functional and sculptural. We have been enamored by their simple yet conceptual designs that seem to challenge the intended use of everyday items (think comically long bags with tiny handles, or baskets with pouches of varying depth). Despite the seemingly highbrow concepts, the designs are rooted in the familiarity of primary colors and traditional materials. This infatuation led us to work with them to develop the first collection in our Rikumo x Local series of in-store exclusives that feature artists who are not directly producing in Japan.
For their lecture, they discussed how their unique backgrounds have culminated in a collection that reflects the inspirations and works of their pasts. From an early stage, they have been exploring the concept of space. Tomoe showed a series of past works that functioned as personal mobile homes, and explained how that concept had directly influenced some of their larger coil works which require a person (or two) to enter in order to experience.
They ended by discussing how Japanese basket making has influenced their work, and came armed with a number of artifacts that they have collected over the years. Like basket weaving, a single material (in this case cotton rope) is used in an additive method to create something larger than the sum of its parts. Where Doug and Tomoe’s work differs is that while creating the shapes in a free-hand method, there is an inevitable amount of variation and improvisation that is present in the final product. No two pieces are ever alike.
Please check out Doug and Tomoe’s site to see their currently available products, and visit the Rikumo Concept Store to see their items first-hand.
WORDS BY SAM GEAN