Kanako Kajihara got her start in Tokyo before becoming an internationally recognized textile designer, but she’s one of Sapporo’s own.
As a child, her dream was to work with colors. After graduating with a degree in Constructed Textiles from Tama Art University, she joined Issey Miyake Textile Design in 1998. Then, in 2003, she entered London’s Royal College of Art (RCA) to pursue her graduate degree. After graduating from RCA, she began working as a freelance textile designer in Europe, but returned to Japan in 2006 to begin work as a director for both international and domestic interior textile markets. Finally, in 2008, she founded Kajihara Design Studio, which brings us to today.
With such an impressive history, little did we expect such an inviting and laid back personality from Ms. Kajihara. It felt as if we were just sitting down to chat with an old friend, rather than interview such a renowned designer.
With Kajihara Design Studio situated in Tokyo, Ms. Kajihara often flies all over Japan, but she makes sure to come back to her hometown of Sapporo on weekends.
“In the old days, when it came to design work, Tokyo was IT. After going to London and seeing Japan from the outside, however, I came to understand that Japan, as a whole, is really the home of sophisticated fabric-making techniques. I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” said Ms. Kijihara.
“With the internet today, a Japanese business isn’t limited to just Tokyo, where there is an overload of information and people makes me feel quite cramped. Hokkaido, on the other hand, is such a vast and open area; it’s really freeing to me to come home,” said Kajihara.
She values the time she has on the commute between Tokyo and Sapporo, when she can just relax and clear her mind.
▲In the Sapporo studio
Ms. Kajihara says her work is heavily influenced by light. The light of Hokkaido is soft and particularly reflective of naturally beautiful green tones.
“The expression of light in my work uses Hokkaido as its foundation,” she says. Although not all of her designs are about Hokkaido’s light, the influence of her experience in Hokkaido is felt through all of her work.
Kajihara’s materials, colors, and patterns don’t try to claim a unique idea of “Kajihara style,” but you can see a commonality of the designer’s Hokkaido influence in everything.
Photograph provided by Kajihara Design Studio
When it comes to fashion and textiles, you have to be two steps ahead of the times and trends. Kajihara’s designs are no exception. With their foundation firmly rooted in Hokkaido, the designs are always evolving and propelling the Kajihara name into the future.
▲This Hokkaido Motif is designed to mimic ripples in the water
Photography provided by Kajihara Design Studio
When I asked Kajihara what her dream for the future is, she smiled gently and said, “I’d like to make a workshop where visitors to Hokkaido can take some time out and try dying their own fabrics. Hopefully, with a little bit of luck, I’ll get such a chance someday.”
Operated separately under the Kajihara name is the Gredacana brand, which is in the process of developing bags, umbrellas, scarfs and other accessories with Kajihara fabric designs.
Kajihara Design Studio has shops in Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka, so if you’re ever in one of these cities, be sure to stop in and see some of the beautiful work Ms. Kajihara has produced. Details for the shops are listed on the homepage (see below).
▲Needle Punch: Fabric scraps from various producers are sewn together in this bag with the needle punch technique.
▲Reversible Jacquard: This is actually just one sheet of fabric, not two different fabrics. The top and bottom are woven in two entirely different patterns. This incredible craftsmanship is something Japanese textiles are known for.
▲Pig skin Yuzen Dying
※Photograph provided by Kajihara Design Studio
■Kajihara Design Studio
( Hokkaido Likers Writer – Chiba Takako )
( Excluding those that are otherwise credited, all photographs by Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer – Itsuki )