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As Time Goes By with Ryo Kashiwazaki

It’s no surprise that the Hender Scheme products stand out amongst our other handmade items. This may be in part due to the fact that the brand is a guest curation by HAVEN co-founder Daniel Chmielewski, but also due to Hender Scheme’s uncommon use of leather in the homewares industry. While the majority of our artisans work with materials such as ceramic, metal and wood, Hender Scheme has honed their skills in a very specific material – natural veg-tan leather. This type of hide is known for it’s smooth, dense surface and lack of color from chromium pigments or other harmful dyes. The result is a pale beige tone that intensifies into a rich caramel color the more it is used. These remarkable effects created from the aging process is often compared to metal alloys that patina through oxidization – metals like brass that turn dark brown or tin that eventually become black. Appreciating the beauty of this sort of dynamic change in a material over the course of its lifetime is a Japanese design concept called Wabi Sabi, and the reason why we’ve always felt Hender Scheme products fit well within our roster.

A few years ago, we became fixated with veg-tan leather as a raw material and eventually began working closely with company founder and designer Ryo Kashiwazaki. We’ve always felt his design aesthetic, and mastery with leather was perfectly suited in the realm of home product design. Through multiple visits to their Asakusa headquarters, we have seen the evolution of the company from its inception as a footwear-focused brand to their pioneering exploration into a wide-range of categories including furniture and home goods.

Since it was Daniel that first introduced us to Hender Scheme back in 2012, it is only fair to commend him and the HAVEN team on their incredible discovery and coverage of the brand’s development in the apparel industry. An informative feature can be found here, but if you’re looking for a recent in-depth interview, our favorite can be found in intelligence Magazine issue 02. In this Backstory, we took a different approach. Over the years we have come to know Ryo on a personal level and have enjoyed his company as a friend as much as we have appreciated the opportunity to work with him as a business partner. Read on as we take a few minutes with Ryo for a round of twenty quick Q&A’s that give a glimpse into the personal interests of this designer that we are glad to continuously grow with as the years go by.

The interview was conducted in English and Japanese. Both languages are published so as to not lose any meaning in translation for native readers.

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Designer Ryo Kashiwazaki at his store, Sukima

1. My favorite city is…

RK: Tokyo. It’s the city I like most in the world.

2. I am a…. (morning person or not a morning person)

RK: I’m not a morning person.

3. I am… (spontaneous or a planner)

RK: I act more intuitively. 

4. I am best known to my close friends for…

RK: Doing things at my own pace.

5. When I was younger I was…

RK: I haven’t changed much since I was young.

6. If I started a charity, it would be to benefit…

RK: Nature.

7. My favorite foods are…

RK: Cooked white rice.

8. I am an… (amazing chef or ok cook or awful cook)

RK: I can’t cook at all!

9. The top three items on my bucket list are…

RK: Continue doing what I’m doing. That’s the only one item on my list. Whenever I achieve it, I’ll be extremely satisfied.

10. My go-to karaoke song is…

RK: “The Angel’s Scene” by Kenji Ozawa.

11. My favorite musical artist/band is…

RK: It’s “Toe”

12. The movie everyone should see is…

RK: E.T.

13. The book everyone should read is…

RK: Kenji Otsuki’s “Gummy Chocolate Pineapple”.

14. My biggest fear is…

RK: Earthquakes.

15. When I travel, I always bring…

RK: Shoes I designed myself.

16. Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?

RK: I wasn’t especially aware that I wanted be a designer. Even now, I do a lot of things besides design, and don’t consider that part of me as anything special.

17. If you could work on anything outside your brand, what would it be?

RK: Woodworking.

18. Best advice you’ve ever received and who was it from?

RK: I received some extreme advice from my junior high soccer coach: “don’t listen to what other people say”. I interpreted that to mean that anything I do, I judge myself by my own standards. As a result, I’ve become more authentic.

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?

RK: Without having a sponsor or working for a design house I’ve gotten as far as I have at this point, though I still have a long way to go.

20. Lastly, where do you see yourself in life down the road?

RK: I don’t think about hypotheticals even a year down the road, but I do have the feeling that my general ideas about life are changing.

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The rotating wood door entrance to the Hender Scheme headquarters

I judge myself by my own standard“.

-Ryo Kashiwazaki

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A reflection inside the Hender Scheme showroom in Tokyo

1. 私の好きな街は…

RK: 個人的には東京が世界で一番好きな街です。

2. 私は(朝に強い・朝に強くない)です。

RK: 朝は強くないです。 

3. 私は(衝動的に動く人・慎重に計画して動く人)です。

RK: 感覚的に動きます。

4. 私は友だちの間で、______で知られています。

RK: マイペース 

5. 私は若い頃_____でした。

RK: 若い頃から今もあまり変わっていません 

6. もし私が慈善事業に携わるとしたら、____のためになるでしょう。

RK: 自然

7. 私の好きな食べものは…

RK: ご飯です。

8. 私の料理の腕前は (シェフ級・普通・ひどく下手)です。

RK: 料理は全くできません。

9. 死ぬまでにやっておきたい3つのことは…

RK: 今やっていることを継続してやっていくこと。が実現できれば一つで大満足です。

10. カラオケで一番歌いたい歌は_____です。

RK: 小沢健二の『天使たちのシーン』です。

11. 好きなミュージシャンは_____です。

RK: toeです。

12. 誰もが観るべき映画は_____です。

RK: 映画『E.T』

13. 誰もが読むべき本は_____です。

RK:大槻ケンヂの『グミ・チョコレート・パイン』

14. 私が一番怖いものは_____です。

RK: 地震

15. 私は旅行する時、いつも_____を持って行きます。

RK: 海があって山があって、自然が豊か。水がきれい。自分でデザインした靴を必ず履いて旅します。

16. デザイナーになりたいと、ずっと思っていましたか?

RK: 特に強く意識はしていませんでした。今もデザイン以外のこともたくさんやっていますし、デザイナーが特別だという意識がないので欲に固執したことはありません。

17. あなたが何か別の仕事をするとしたら、それは何でしょうか?

RK: 木工にすごく興味があります。

18. あなたがこれまでに受けた最高のアドバイスは何ですか?それは誰からでしたか?

RK: 他人の言うことは聞くなという少し極端なアドバイスを中学生のときのサッカーのコーチに受けました。何事も自分で判断すべきだということだと解釈しています。結果自分の思考がぶれることが無くなりました。

19. 今のところの、最大の業績は何だと思いますか?

RK: スポンサーやメゾン等にいた実績がない状態で、今に至れたこと。まだまだ未熟ですが。

20. 将来の自分はどうなっていると思いますか?

RK: 1年後すら想像つきません。でも、生活の概念が今とは少し変わっているような気がします。

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A roll of Hender Scheme’s signature veg-tan leather

 

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Shoe molds

 

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Sketches of home goods and footwear designs

 

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Specialty leather sewing machines

Backstory Credits: Words by Angélique Chmielewski and Stevenson Aung, Photos by M. Johnson, Translation by Greg Lekich and Aya Nihei