38. Kyoko Wainai
When Lord Charlemont had the Casino designed, in the eighteenth century, it coincided with the great flowering of the Edo Period in Japan, a time of peace and high artistic achievement. My grandmother was a kimono designer of renown in northern Japan. During WWII her way of quiet anti war protest was to make lots of beautiful undergarments for girls using kimono fabric, the designs for which in many cases date back to that golden time in the seventeen hundreds. She made the connexion in a sweet yet avant garde way. I found this piece of fabric in her treasure chest of remnants after her death. Probably made for a young girl on her seventh birthday, for the traditional celebration for healthy children as they grew up, it embodies the message, strong and feminine that I want to bring from deep in her heart. I added the dots to represent the landscape setting of the Casino and Dublin, binding these concepts together.
Kyoko Wainai, a creator, could be described as an intricately woven tapestry of fine gold and silver threads. A Native of Japan, she now lives and works from London, where she has continued developing a number of characteristics that define her working style. The first of these is a somewhat gregariously decorative one expressed through overtly luxurious, kitchy interior objects and evening bags. Her clients are not the conservative affluent of high English society rather they are the wealthy Milanese Madams with an eye for beautiful things. It is clear that lots of energy and investment goes into each and every part of her work. She indulges in the use of Kimono fabric adorning it with beautiful rich brocades and tasty velvet with silk satin ribbon, combining these textures to create gorgeous handmade decorative pieces. At first they appear to be in the traditional Japanese sense, objects of beauty but upon closer inspection I can see that not only has she captured a certain Japanese sensitivity, but a foreign splendor too. I have come to the conclusion that perhaps it is Kyoko’s roots, which go back to the Russian missionaries who arrived in Japan three generations before, that have brought about this syncretism. She has been attending the Russian Orthodox choir from an early age where she tells me her fascination with the costume of the priest, a nostalgic relic of childhood fantasy, has never ceased.
Another characteristic that defines Kyoko’s work is found in the making of simple day-today-clothing and bags, which maintain a delicate balance in their carefully selected materials. Simplicity and warmth, sweet and clean cut, orthadox and fashion. Her work is always made up in equal measure, attesting to her expert editing technique. She really has an eye for sumptuous fabrics, printed textiles and ribbons. Of course she can easily get hold of beautiful materials directly from the shops but instead Kyoko relies on the makers themselves to acquire her goods. Textile designer Nigel Atkinson and luxurious interior fabric maker Benison Fabrics, Ceramic designer Magda Weldon, these are some of the people she has chosen for their high sense of creativity, craft and originality. These are people who keep their distance from the mass market and it is this that Kyoko is drawn to, making the process a collaborative one. Skillfully combining the artist with the product is an important aspect of her work, but what is more so is the way in which she combines the expressions of the product through dynamic assemblage. Just as within a traditional Japanese kitchen simplicity and accuracy count the most, her scissors follow the artistry of the chef’s knife and her eyes his nose. So with these two defining characteristics we find contrast and wholeness all rolled into one. These have become her trademark that perhaps link back with her past when, as a designer and not maker, she was working in large design companies.
When she lived in Japan it was described as the Golden Age era for the designing scene. With lots of investment being placed in new projects and experimentation, this was a time when the design world was running at full steam, on a big scale. As a designer in Japan she spent a lot of time mixing with creative crowds; with musicians, actors, people from the world of theatre and fashion, with whom she met on a regular basis before leaving for London. London, a conveniently located European city, has for many years been known for its inspirational hot hub of creative activity. And not only London, England and Scotland have a globally recognised tradition of handy craft with many long-standing traditional manufacturers unchanged since the industrial boom. In London creators have flocked from all over the world. Unable to truly express their work in their own countries, many have chosen London to find freedom in the creative expressions. So it is here, in London, that Kyoko chose to form new partnerships and creative dialogues.
Brixton, “little Jamaica”, is where she currently lives and creates. With raw materials and a super sharp eye she continues to make her tasteful craft, weaving together the silver warp of her 20 years experience with the golden weft of her designing skill.