Style & Design

Issey Miyake goes with the flow with new Osaka store

by Mark Thompson

Staff Writer

On Saturday, world-renowned clothing designer Issey Miyake opened his largest shop thus far, and Osaka gets the honor of being the host. Following Issey Miyake Ginza, the shop located in the Semba district of Kansai’s largest city, is the designer’s second outlet — and only one in western Japan — to assemble multiple brands together.

Boasting a full range of Issey Miyake clothing brands (eight in total) and showcasing other items, including eyewear and perfumes, the 828-square-meter site also features a “creation space” that will showcase local creativity.

Echoing the flagship store in Kyoto, which paid homage to the time-honored aesthetic traditions of that city, the interior design of Issey Miyake Semba — overseen by Osaka-born Shingo Noma — not only celebrates the area’s craftsmanship and ingenuity but also draws on its history.

A view of the first floor interior of Issey Miyake Semba | © ISSEY MIYAKE INC. PHOTO BY MASAYA YOSHIMURA,
A view of the first floor interior of Issey Miyake Semba | © ISSEY MIYAKE INC. PHOTO BY MASAYA YOSHIMURA,

When asked by Miyake for a concept, Noma proposed water. Like Venice, Osaka is a city of canals that is shaped by water, and it’s no mystery why the names of many Osaka areas include the word “jima” (island).

Riffing on the city’s origin story, Noma designed a massive metal faucet for the store’s exterior signage, which is fixed to its facade. Speaking on the evening before the store’s opening, Noma said this distinctive object is in the Osaka tradition of merchants who proudly display big visual cues, like the iconic crab billboard of Kani Doraku or the Glico running man.

The giant faucet logo on the exterior of Issey Miyake Semba, designed by Shingo Noma | MARK THOMPSON
The giant faucet logo on the exterior of Issey Miyake Semba, designed by Shingo Noma | MARK THOMPSON

Inside the store, custom-made pipe fixtures, all locally manufactured, run throughout, from the gleaming silver structures of the clothing racks to one huge pipe at the store’s center. The designer says he envisioned all of Miyake’s ideas gushing through one colossal conduit and then flowing through a series of pipes to different destinations.

Taking the metaphor even further, the Creation Space in the store’s basement is hosting an exhibition/event titled “Seitaro Kuroda’s ‘Fount of Creativity,'” featuring Miyake’s long-time acquaintance and equally prolific contemporary. Kuroda will actually be in the store improvising illustrations until Sept. 7., though on the evening prior to the opening, the octogenarian illustrator jokingly wondered if he would be able to stick with it.

The retail section of the basement floor interior of Issey Miyake Semba | ©?ISSEY MIYAKE INC. PHOTO BY MASAYA YOSHIMURA,
The retail section of the basement floor interior of Issey Miyake Semba | ©?ISSEY MIYAKE INC. PHOTO BY MASAYA YOSHIMURA,

Another concept at work in the Issey Miyake shop is “omoroi” — the Osakan version of “omoshiroi” (interesting/amusing). While the overall vibe is appropriately sophisticated, this sense of playfulness is bubbling up underneath. The shop’s pastel sofas and chairs, for example, were modeled on bars of soap, though the visual gag is subtle.

The omoroi keyword also dovetails with Kuroda’s drawings, which have a child-like purity. Kuroda explains that he’s not really drawing: “Something is making me draw … I’m not really thinking. It’s tiring when you think, right? I think we overthink things.”

When asked what qualities he shares with Miyake, Kuroda says, “I mean this in a good way: Miyake is really self-indulgent. Straight-forwardly selfish, not vacillating. There aren’t many people like that. … I’m kind of like that, though not as direct.”

Seitaro Kuroda works on an illustration in the Creation Space of Issey Miyake Semba | MARK THOMPSON
Seitaro Kuroda works on an illustration in the Creation Space of Issey Miyake Semba | MARK THOMPSON

Kuroda says he doesn’t really care where his drawings come from or where they go. “The bottom line is, I simply like to draw,” he says. He adds that he suspects Miyake knew a blank wall and a box of colored crayons would be enough to keep his creative juices flowing.

He’s probably right. He usually is.

For more information, visit www.isseymiyake.com/en/stores/67

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