Kiriko is a small unisex accessories label based in Portland, Oregon that uses traditional and vintage Japanese textiles to craft their continually changing collection of unique scarves, ties, pocket squares, and other miscellany. As such, much of their work is devoted to and inspired by time-honored production methods of traditional Japanese textile weaving, whether it’s kasuri, boro, sashiko, or any other number of conventional styles.
Products aside, what’s beautiful about the label is that it propagates a broad aesthetic, conceptual, and consumer interest in these heritage fabrics – even despite their commercial decline over the last half century. Although the traditional production methods behind these heritage fabrics may no longer be profitable for textile manufacturers, the pieces themselves are in no way outmoded. In fact, if Kiriko’s growth as a brand is any indication, vintage Japanese fabrics are regaining relevance amongst contemporary consumers connoisseurs.
Wanting to know more about the label, I was lucky enough to catch Dawn Yanagihara (Kiriko’s co-founder and creative director) amidst the holiday rush to discuss the label and why creativity is a constant pursuit:
Chicago-based eyewear label Drift began by making handmade wooden frames from laminated cross sections of retired skateboards. Of course you would never know it. There is an incredible elegance to their glasses: an almost vehement non-rustic appeal that embodies the best of what recovered hardwoods have to offer, without the shabby-chic quasi-lazy characteristic of other such ventures.
Taking this interest to the next level, Drift recently released Delta Blues – a small collection of glasses and shades handcrafted from an even more unlikely source: 100 year old pieces of Cypress lost at the bottom of the Mississippi River.
What began as a material investigation became something distinctly more intimate. After a series of hurdles, the team enlisted the help of a local named Byron, a construction worker turned swamp logger who they discovered on Craigslist (his motto: “why pay more when you can pay me?”). It turned out the investment was well worthwhile. He unearthed a beautiful piece of sunken Cypress that had marinated in the delta soil for around 100 years. Capitalizing on the rich striations of olive greens, deep purples, and honeycombs, this recovered grain is the focal point of the entire collection.
Nendo – “Quivering” Bowls
Japanese firm Nendo expresses a unique and subtle sensibility throughout their work – namely a minimal approach to conceptual and product design, with just a hint of surprise mixed in for good measure. What I particularly admire aside from their pared down aesthetic is that their projects always have something around the corner.
Nendo’s “Quivering” Bowl
Nendo’s portfolio is as varied as it is extensive, working between graphics to full blown interiors. My most recent obsession however is a small line of bowls designed for the “Kama: Sex & Design” exhibit at last year’s Triennale Design Museum in Milan. As you may intuit, the show investigates the relationship between sexuality and design – ultimately asking people to reexamine the common taboo associated with such a union. Suffice it to say, Nendo’s contribution deals directly with the issue of sensuality and seduction, yet all in their own understated style.
Nendo “quivering” bowl – time lapse photo
The designers submitted a series of extremely thin vessels that upon first glance seem like fine handmade ceramics. Of course the bowl itself is an inherently feminine object with close associations to the womb, to sustenance, and even birth. Yet there is more at play here. These bowls are actually made from silicon – an incredibly malleable material that is incredibly tactful and unexpectedly seductive. Borrowing from Nendo’s official site, they explain, “[w]e wanted to express eros through a design that evokes desire – a design that viewers simply can’t bear not to touch.”
Many of you may remember a post I published many months ago cataloguing the process behind building my first ever homemade skateboard. Since then, I have been working on a very special side project along the same vein. Truth be told, I’ve grappled with whether it would be appropriate to discuss my own creative endeavors on Procured Design. It seems like a conflict of interest. But at the end of the day, I decided that it is more productive to share my work with you all rather than to omit what has turned out to be huge part of my life.
Side Project Skateboards – No. 1
With that in mind, I am very proud to introduce the aptly named Side Project Skateboards - a pop-up shop featuring a limited edition of eighteen handmade, vintage-inspired skateboards. Each board is designed and crafted by yours truly in an attempt to marry the DIY spirit of the nascent skate culture in the early 60’s with a refined, modern sensibility.
Side Project Skateboards | No. 2
Side Project Skateboards | No. 16 Detail
Every skateboard is entirely handmade from start to finish. It is one thing to build a series of boards from handpicked lumber, but my interest in raw materials added another dimension to my work. As such, Side Project Skateboards are comprised predominantly of found and recovered hardwoods. Of course every piece – whether recovered or picked from the yard – was curated based on structural integrity and striking visual appeal. I hope it goes without saying that each deck is one of a kind.
Kiriko – accessories handcrafted from vintage Japanese textiles
I couldn’t be happier with my weekend spent at the Northern Grade pop-up market for American-made goods in Chicago. Situated in the heart of Millennium Park, the event showcased a well-curated collection of men’s clothing and accessories labels from around the states. Suffice it to say that I am very grateful to the event coordinators at Pierrepont Hicks for bringing together so many talented and like-minded individuals who share a passion for producing quality made goods here in the US.
Makr cases at Haberdash
Spotted: Scout Seattle
It was a pleasure to see some familiar faces, and was equally as exciting to meet the talent behind new and upcoming labels – many of whom will be featured here in the coming months! In the meantime however, here are some notable highlights from this year’s Northern Grade Chicago:
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of visiting Nashville for the first time. I was only there for a day, but was immediately impressed by the obvious pride of place that emanated from everyone I met. To be fair, I interacted almost exclusively with local makers and entrepreneurs (Otis James, Emil Erwin, and the folks behind Peter Nappi to name a few), but the city itself emanated an undeniable energy that you couldn’t help but soak up. It was that of empowerment – of having a vision and pursuing it in spite of the odds.
Handcrafted garments for men & women by Imogene + Willie
In many senses, Nashville is at the heart of a maker’s revival that has spread throughout the states in recent years. Though this legacy is something that belongs to every creative mind in the city, there is perhaps no better poster child than that of heritage clothing label Imogene + Willie.
Imogene + Willie storefront & studio
Though I wasn’t able to coordinate a studio visit, I carved an hour out of my schedule to drop into their store – a winsomely converted gas station on 12th Ave.
The first collections of cufflinks released by Alice Made This are veritable studies in the marriage between material beauty and minimalism. Capitalizing on the natural properties of solid silver, brass, and copper, these initial pieces appeal to a quietly elegant aesthetic that one often associates with British luxury. Yet in recent collections, designer Alice Walsh has branched out to experiment with other, less traditional contours and media.
“William” Rope Cufflink in Taupe
“William” Rope Cufflink in Black (left) & Blue (right)
Continuing this momentum, Alice Made This recently launched its newest collection, which consists of twelve unique knotted chord cufflinks. A refreshing update on the traditional silk knotted cufflinks (which have been in production since 1904), these nautical-inspired pieces reference the decorative stopper knots developed and used by British sailors during the 19th Century. At that time, sea-going vessels were subject to inspection before entering a given port. So as an extra measure to tidy up the ship, the crews created elaborate, functional knots to symbolize their pride and competence as sailors.
Voyageuse bag in black
Writers are often told to write what they know. The same I’m sure, goes for designers. For French creative Valéry Damnon, artistry comes from a deeply personal place. As the founder and designer of his own women’s luxury leather goods label, Damnon combines his most vivid childhood memories with professional insights into the world of haute couture. The result is a collection of accessories that is both captivating and sentimental.
Valéry Damnon at the design table
As a child, Damnon was innately interested in raw materials – specifically the leathers produced by the many tanneries in the surrounding Midi-Pyrénées region of southern France. Picking up on this enthusiasm, his grandmother taught him about an array of different fabrics as well as the art of sewing.
One of the defining aspects of his work is the uncompromising emphasis placed on sourcing the best materials and expertise throughout Europe. As such, each Valéry Damnon piece is designed in Paris with a former prototypist of respected French ateliers. This complete control over the creative process encourages the label to meld innovative new styles with functional components – a favorite of which being the integrated mirror in their Mutine clutch (pictured below).
Mutine clutch with integrated mirror
Damnon’s interest in process also extends to working with other makers to develop new materials unique to his label. For instance, all of his leathers are custom dyed by select tanneries throughout France and Italy, while the colors themselves are inspired by Damnon’s favorite paintings. Their black colorway is especially exciting. It references the work of Pierre Soulage, who demonstrates that black is not just a singular hue, but an amalgam of different tones. As such, the black lamb leather developed for Damnon’s bags carries subtle undertones of grey, brown, and green. His current collection also references the works by Nicolas de Stael, Mark Rothko, and Yves Klein (below).
Delicieuse bag in “Yves Klein” blue
As for the bags themselves, they are individually handcrafted in Portugal by a small family-run studio of leatherworkers who extend back many generations.
The “Roxy” Walnut Rocker
In a cultural climate that is so keen on delegation and outsourcing, it means that much more to discover a true maker within the creative community. What’s amazing about our current place in time is that most everyone has the ability to pursue a given skill regardless of their background.
All brass wall sconce
Wall Storage Cabinet in Walnut (left) & Cherry (right)
For Logan & Roxy Hendrickson, everything started at home. Having just moved into a new house, the couple began to design and handcraft their own furniture and lighting fixtures. They launched a blog called onefortythree (the numerical address of their new home) to catalogue both their progress and ideas along the way. But it wasn’t long before they received requests from friends and family asking for their own custom pieces. At that, onefortythree quickly transformed into an online shop, featuring a vast array of unique, handmade wares for the home, office, and studio.
The “Otis” wall light
The family cat enjoying a custom made perch
Because the Hendricksons design and craft each piece from the ground up, there is a constant flux of items in the works. They continually develop prototypes for new products as well as improvements for those that already exist. Wanting to give each piece the attention it deserves, everything in their line is made to order, one at a time in their studio in Henderson, Nevada.
It’s hard for me to say it without feeling like a kook, but woodworking really has taught me some invaluable life lessons. Of course many of them are vague and noncommittal; the sort that you can spew off about any profession (i.e. patience, perseverance, and the usual spiel). But I’m talking about legitimate, practical wisdom that I gained from the workbench.
Yours truly breaking in a Stronghold apron
Like any lesson, it sinks in best when you learn it the hard way. I walked into my first day as a carpenter wearing a denim apron I picked up in Japan for around 2500 yen (around $30 when I was there). As far as I was concerned, it was a steal. Unfortunately for my ego, it didn’t last a month. I found myself almost immediately back in the market for a durable work apron, only this time, I was going to get the best I could afford.
Stronghold fastens each copper rivet by hand – just like in olden days
My research brought me to Stronghold – a specialized denim label out of Los Angeles, CA that draws on a rich heritage of high quality craftsmanship and genuine materials.
If I were a better student, I could quote the now nameless philosopher and anthropologist who argued that creativity is inseparably bound to cultural context. In other words, a revolutionary – say van Gogh – could never create in a vacuum. Artwork, ideas, music, &c. all stem from, and are framed by, the society in which they are created.
Vincent van Gogh - ”The Siesta (after Millet)” 1890, Oil on canvas
One thing I’ve noticed about the patrons of the creative world – of collectors, sponsors, and the like – is that they often misunderstand this concept. For many of them, the only work worth appreciating is that which undermines tradition: the avant-garde and the inexplicable. There is a time and place for everything (especially innovation), but it’s important to not get caught up in what makes something different as opposed to what makes something wonderful.
Designer Ann-Sofi and intern at work
If I’m guilty of anything as a budding aesthete, it’s my preference towards the natural progression of things. I enjoy looking at the work of creative people and seeing the traditions that fueled them, both in design and process. This is partly why I so much admire the work by Väska – a small leather goods label that marries the best of Nordic minimalism with traditional craftsmanship.
I am part of a transient generation. Thanks to international flights and data plans, we are all over the place. I’d even go so far as to say that if I could sum up the lives and careers of the twenty-somethings I know in a single word, it would have to be impermanence.
Real Good reading room (via bloodandchampagne.com)
As I’ve learned over the last several weeks, it can be daunting to chase graduate degrees and professional opportunities across the country. Yet aside from the financial and psychological vulnerability of our new-age nomadic lifestyle, what got to me during our recent move was the threat of having to leave behind what felt like home: our furniture, artwork, petite library, and so on.
Real Good Chair by Blu Dot (in copper)
Obviously for life on the run, you have to be practical and efficient in terms of what you carry with you. Of course some people can live out of a suitcase, but apparently I’m much more of a home body. Not only do I need my space, but I need it to look nice as well. So with the intent of better furnishing our life as a ping-pong ball, I stumbled on the “Real Good Chair” by the Minneapolis design studio Blu Dot.
Earlier this year, I was very excited to discover the alluring handcrafted bracelets by 877. Now, I’m thrilled to announce that we are partnering up to hold our very first giveaway to win your choice of their recently released Nato bracelets!
It’s simple. All you have to do is like both Procured Design and 877 on Facebook. Then share the contest on at least one of your favorite social media feeds with the hashtag #877giveaway. Of course you’re always welcome to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, & Pinterest too, but that’s not required to win!
The contest will end at midnight (CST) on August 16th. It’s also worth pointing out that the giveaway is open to everybody. We’ll even ship internationally so there’s no reason to miss out! The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Procured Design’s Facebook page on the 19th. Best of luck!
How many ways are there to make a leather bag? About 3.5 million, give or take a few. There is such an incredible variety of shapes, aesthetics, materials, qualities, and price points that it can make you dizzy if you focus too hard on finding the right one. Yet for all these considerations, I very much admire the work by Amee Hinkley of Ash & Ore – a small leather goods label out of Boulder, CO.
Rosie Bucket Tote (in Cobalt)
Space Tote – Detailing
What was immediately apparent to me when I first saw her collection of handmade bags and wallets is that they all felt rather personal. Surely every artisan has a special relationship with his or her products, but the sensibilities of those by Ash & Ore felt rooted in something deeper.
One of the best things any creative can do is surround themselves with constant inspiration. For Niki Livingston, this meant opening her studio in Los Angeles as a hub for collaboration, a sounding board for brand direction and development, and a workshop for producing hand crafted goods. Known simply as Lookout & Wonderland, the studio came to life in 2005 and has since become well known for their stunning array of hand dyed goods.
Deconstructed Shibori Techniques
Though the Lookout & Wonderland studio crafts a limited line of ceramics and other wares, they place a large emphasis on their textile work – specifically that of indigo dyeing. Taking cues from Nordic interiors and Japanese shibori, their pieces add a bold, yet rustic touch to a given space – whether as a unique table runner or a decorative pillowcase.
One-man mill in North London
One of the more potent legacies in the history of the modern world is the wave of industrialization that swept across 19th and 20th century Europe. Whether through naïveté or powerlessness, the era ushered in a maelstrom of change that affected every aspect of daily life. As students, we are often encouraged to indulge in the confirmation biases we intuit from novels by Charles Dickens – of insolvent orphans and soot-coated workhouses; the onset of thievery and deception; the death of culture. But the dramatic changes during this period also laid ballast for pioneers like Vincent van Gogh, Carl Jung, and a plethora of others who continue to influence the world we know today.
Over the last several years, I have been involved in a widening trend in creativity that seeks to scale back our reliance on large-scale mechanization in favor of a more intimate, artisanal approach. I’ve noticed however that many of us have swung too far in reverse. For many, industrialization is only a slippery slope away from mass-production, which in turn straddles the fence between profit mongering and worker exploitation.
The fact of the matter is that there is beauty in industrial production. A phenomenal proportion of the technologies developed during the Industrial Revolution were not solely rooted in time management and cost-efficiency, but also in making a superior product. As I discovered in the work by menswear label S.E.H. Kelly, there are still pockets of this tradition in the works today.
When I first started skateboarding in 1998, it was an off-season affair. My real interest was snowboarding. However given the relatively mild winters, low altitude, and modestly sized mountains, that indulgence was disappointingly brief. So from April to December, I flew down nearby hills on my skateboard to pass the time – though it obviously wasn’t the same. Yet looking back, those eight warm months of each year were the only thing that could have ever prepared me for being a snowboarder trapped in Texas.
It’s a misconception that one’s proficiency in a particular board sport will adequately prepare you for another. For me, the translation between fiberglass on snow and wheels on pavement was a dicey one. However, thanks to breakthroughs in both design and technology, the borders between board sports are becoming increasingly blurred – especially with the most recent release by California-based skate label Buddy Carr.
For sisters Marie and Karen Potesta, launching their own fashion label was a lifelong ambition. They first realized their love for fashion while watching their grandparents work as respective dress and shoemakers. Now, drawing on years of industry experience and an impressive roster of graduate degrees, the duo owns Micaela Greg – a small women’s knitwear label based in San Francisco.
Though the thought of knitwear conjures up images of thick cable knit jumpers, Micaela Greg is not relegated to sweaters. They produce lightweight tops, flowing dresses, and even leggings that span all four seasons. Yet regardless of the garment, the allure of their collections lies in their handiwork.
Jaqet is a small accessories label out of California that produces a handsome line of handcrafted leather goods. Both in process and form, their work is rooted in utilitarianism. Each of their many wallets and lanyards are designed to be useful – meaning of course that there are no unnecessary frills about them.
black iphone wallet
lanyard in saddle
What really strikes me about Jaqet is their unique aesthetic sensibility. The mixture of curved and geometric lines throughout their collection is particularly successful, especially in their trapezoidal coin wallet below. Yet in contrast to the simplicity of their pieces, Jaqet’s most intriguing embellishment stems from a subtle celebration of their process.
My experiences in Tokyo taught me that there is a difference between Japanese jeans and Japanese jeans. I am a fan of both, though due to price point and accessibility, I have yet to own or encounter the latter.
Samurai kakishibu hand dyed persimmon jeans – selvedge detail (Photo: Blue in Green)
Granted there is no real distinction between these two modes – just italics and an arbitrary value system of my own creation. For a pair of jeans to be truly Japanese, it has to be more than a standard slim fit cut from denim produced in Kurashiki. It has to be a veritable emblem of Japanese culture.
Samurai Jean Co. – Kakishibu Persimmon Dyeing (Photo: Blue in Green)
Limited Edition Persimmon Button Detail (Image: Blue in Green)
I have come across a number of pieces that fit my criteria from Pure Blue Japan’s AI-002’s (hand dyed with natural indigo by one of Japan’s few living national treasures) to Momotaro’s Gold Label (hand woven denim produced on a loom originally used to make kimono). Of course it would take a true denim connoisseur to spot the differences between these jeans and their more accessible counterparts, but the folks at Samurai Jean Co. have released something a bit more conspicuous.