Over a year and a half ago when Richard from The Design Library was in town to show us vintage artwork, we ended up leasing a very special piece. The focal in Indigo Patchwork looks very different now than it did in its original form. What we purchased was a painting of only two colors, it was a red ground with a white design.
This piece in itself is quite historical. It is believed that it was meant as a template for a “Katagami” which is a Japanese paper stencil primarily used for kimono printing. In this Japanese design process, the painting would come first. It would then be laid over a thin sheet of mulberry bark paper and used to cut the silk screen. In this case, we know this painting was never used because, in this process, once a painting is used as a template, the original painting is damaged and lost forever. So the fact that this piece, from many centuries ago, still existed and was at our fingertips was quite a treat!
When I first set my eyes on this piece, I instantly was drawn to it for its historical value, but also for its aesthetic value. I could see the potential for a whole collection in it. On its own it was a strong focal, but it also provided me with the other coordinates to flesh out the rest of the collection. I also knew instantly that I wanted to do a traditional color palette of indigo blues and white. Since the piece was a patchwork painting, it seemed fitting to fill differing shades of blues within the sections, knowing that I would pull those blues out later in the coordinates. As I worked with this group, I felt I wanted to add some greys also just to round out the palette. I think they complement the collection quite well.
The only print that is an original is Ikat Stripe. I created this print especially for this collection, and although it’s an original design, I designed it to specifically fit the feeling of this group and the aesthetic of traditional Ikat designs that were commonly used in Japan. My design is a print that is intended to replicate the look of a true Ikat, where the yarns are tie-dyed before being woven.
What I find especially interesting about this collection is that although it originated from something that is so ancient, many of the coordinating prints feel very modern and fresh. It just shows that everything is cyclical, especially when it comes to artwork and design. Arrows, Enso and Ink Scrolls are shown below.