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Nice Things Magazine | A Life in Brooklyn

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Our home in Brooklyn was recently featured in the December issue of Nice Things magazine, a Japanese lifestyle publication that is quickly becoming a favourite. Opening our home up was a new experience. People always ask us what our place is like and although we speak about it, we rarely reveal anything in photos. The number one question we get is “Does your home look like the store”? I used to think it was more eclectic than the store, but as time goes on the answer is slowly becoming a firm “Yes”.

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This was a fun feature because we had the pleasure of being interviewed by Aya Nihei and photographed by Yuki Matsumura, who have both become close to us over the years. Aya actually works with us on a daily basis so having them over was like any other afternoon with good friends. The only difference this time is that we got a chance to showcase some of our ‘nice things’. For me that includes my signed first edition copies of Patti Smith books that I’ve collected from Mast Books. Steve’s pick was a series of sculptures I’ve made him throughout our relationship. Together we’ve added furniture, objects and artwork to all the corners of our home, slowly transforming them into spaces we love – owning a home goods store has helped in that regard! There are so many things by designers and artists we’ve integrated into our home that we carry in the store or have been gifted. They serve as constant reminders of the awesome people we get to work with and I think it’s safe to say that those are the things we treasure the most.

You can pick up Nice Things magazine online here or locally in New York at Kinokuniya bookstore. This particular issue is full of familiar products and faces from our Journal. We were so excited to see a feature on our friend Noriko Konuma’s store in Tokyo, Kumu!

angelique



Kyoto Moyashi House

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In a quiet temple district of Kyoto, dotted with Buddhist temples, stands the Kyoto Moyashi House. Its unassuming façade is like most kyōmachiya (traditional Kyoto style townhouses) but take a closer look and you’re in for a surprise.

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The house was erected in the late 1800s. The original owner, Mr. Ishii built the house as a residence and a workspace for the fermentation of koji, a culture made from soybeans primarily used to make sake amongst other Japanese food staples like miso and soy sauce. Recently, Fonz, the homeowners, with the help of their friend, architect Mr. Shigenori Uoya, had the idea to renovate and design the house to transform it into a multi-purpose meeting grounds for events, workshops and the best part, for lodging. Yes, you can actually stay in this 120-year-old house and feel like you’ve been transported back into time. Given the opportunity, we did just that!

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We were excited to hear about how Kyoto Moyashi House arranged for the architect and homeowners to welcome us upon first arrival to give us the lay of the land and explain the history of the house. We found out that when they were planning the project, their main purpose was to keep the integrity of the old house while making it modernized and functional for today. They remained true to their initial approach and completed the project in June 2015. The results are truly special.

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Mr. Uoya (pictured above) has had experience working on around sixty other projects, but revealed that this house was one of the more challenging ones because he had the responsibility to not only keep the history of the house but also that of the area. The area Shimogyō-ku was once full of old wooden machiya style townhouses but they are slowly going extinct since many owners can’t deal with the high costs associated to the maintenance and renovation of decrepit folk dwellings, and instead invest in the development of modern condos or offices.

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As we toured the house, Mr. Uoya explained that he kept with the original infrastructure and opted to mix in modern elements. Evidence of this exists all throughout. A beautiful mix of old and new occur in such details as earthen walls that combine with concrete floors or authentic wood beams that seamlessly blend into glass doors. He also pointed out the many details they decided to keep including old steel implements and wood vessels used to produce koji.

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Our favourite part of the Kyoto Moyashi House is actually the centrally located open-air garden. Accessible from all the main ground-floor rooms through sliding glass doors, the garden provides nice airflow and natural light, as intended by the architect.

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Every nook is softly lit and peaceful. The top floor rooms offer overnight guests the opportunity to experience a traditional Japanese style stay with tatami flooring and roll out futon mats.

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From the back of the house, you can see the foundations of the home and the narrow lot of land it occupies. Machiya were both a place of business and residence for their owners so they often had narrow facades that would act as storefronts accessible from the street. The homes then expanded deep into the back to make room for living quarters and workshop areas. Outdoor spaces were incorporated in the form of small courtyard gardens. The houses were everything the owner needed to build a life and family in a time when Kyoto witnessed increased economic growth near the end of the Edo period.

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Although Kyoto is a city steeped in tradition, the long-established spheres of culture often feel inaccessible – only for the elite, the ones in the know. Private teahouses and clubs exist and invitation only is still criterion for entry. Not to say that we’re not one for a good speakeasy but it’s refreshing to know that places that aim to preserve tradition are opening their doors to foreign admirers to experience Japan’s intrinsic concepts of living firsthand. The machiya provides an old-world charm that is hardly ever available outside of museums or special tours. The fact that you can actually stay in a place that provides an intimate encounter to artisan crafts, architecture and materials is noteworthy in itself. We highly recommend the Kyoto Moyashi House. If not for an extended stay, at least for one night to enjoy the hinoki cypress wood bathtub!

Contact the Kyoto Moyashi House for all inquiries and rates.
Special thanks to the Kyoto Moyashi House staff and architect, Mr. Uoya, for the in-depth tour.
Photos by Matthew Johnson.

stevenson



Church of the Light in Progress

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The above image is of Tadao Ando giving directions during the construction of one of his most iconic structures, Ibaraki Kasugaoka, otherwise known as Church of the Light. The photo is part of a collection of behind the scenes images that documents the building’s construction starting from the groundwork to the finished product. Since Church of the Light is one of my favorite buildings, it was a privilege to see these records first hand during a special occasion at their archives a few years ago.

I was reminded of these images recently because in many ways I feel like I’m witnessing the arrival of another Tadao Ando masterpiece, this time right in my own city with the soon to be completed residential building on 152 Elizabeth Street – the first official Tadao Ando building in New York.

Every day we pass by the construction site on the corner of Elizabeth and Kenmare on our way to work and get to slowly watch it rise. We saw the demolishing, the concrete being laid and now the framework is gradually coming up. It feels like the scenes from these archival images of Church of the Light from the 1980s are coming to life, only this time we get to see these scenes right before our very own eyes. It definitely seems like a pivotal moment in NYC’s architectural landscape, maybe comparable to how Osaka residents felt when Church of the Light was being constructed. Anyway, enjoy these rare images!

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stevenson



Tajika – Scissors and Shears Exhibition Recap

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The Tajika Exhibition of scissors and shears is still going on for a couple more days but it’s been such a great show we wanted to give an early recap of the event this time around. In case something catches your eye, you still have a couple days to check out the exhibition in person or inquire over email. Takedown begins Friday evening (October 28th) and our gallery will go back to regular inventory starting Saturday morning.

Pablo Luis provided the music for the opening reception. The playlist is above or found here if you want to be transported to last Friday night!

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On opening day Daisuke Tajika spent the afternoon helping us set up the show. Just a few moments before opening our doors for the evening, we dimmed the lights and Daisuke added last minute touches to the displays, which included over 80 pairs of scissors and shears! As the only items lit up, the scissors looked incredible in the recessed display shelves with light bouncing off the blades.

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Once we opened, guests went straight for the sample scissors. We set up demo stations to give everyone a chance to try the scissors out for themselves. It’s one thing to read about what makes Tajika scissors special but another to actually feel them in your hands – the weight and tension, the sound as the blades perfectly snip through leather, paper or branches. It’s a wonderful sensation.

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We couldn’t have been more excited to have Burrow cater the event. We’re huge fans of this Brooklyn based pastry café. Aside from the scissors of course, pastry chef Ayako Kurokawa’s scissor inspired, “super pointy” pies were another highlight of the night. So much so that Ayako’s assistant, Phoebe, couldn’t hold on to them for longer than a half hour. If you didn’t get a chance to try their pies at our show, check them out at their charming little café in DUMBO, or check out Ayako’s awesome instagram account here.

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Daisuke also brought with him displays that showcased the work in progress of certain models of scissors. The displays depict various manufacturing stages, including assembly, forging and molding. Personally I liked the work in progress display of the Herb Shears that showed about 15 steps of the making process. Some of their more complex shears like their Kevlar scissors take up to 200 steps.

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Another special addition was actually an item that belongs to Daisuke’s father, Takeo Tajika. Brought with him all the way from Ono City. The hammer is one of Takeo Tajika’s favorite tool that he uses everyday when working on the production of their collection. A self-made tool, the handle has been used for around five years. His fingers naturally create the grooves in the wood through continued usage. When the handle is completely split, he replaces it but continues to use the steel head that has been in his possession for decades.

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The ‘Scissor Blade Inspection Machine’ was another interesting device. It is used to detect distortion in the blades alignment by the use of light that refracts against the scissors. Just one of the many machines invented by Takeo Tajika to solve their company’s various production issues ensuring the highest quality end result.

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Opening night was a success! The next morning Daisuke came by to say his goodbyes and give each pair of scissors one last polishing. Seeing him care for the blades so carefully made me realize how truly dedicated he is to his craft.

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It was nice to have a quiet moment with him after the opening so he can re-run us through the care instructions and purpose of each pair of scissors, especially the more specialized types…

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… like the ‘wagashi shears’ with long blades to cut sheets of candy, the ‘deburring shears’ with curved blades used to cut edges, and the Kevlar scissors with orange handles.

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We also took this opportunity to have him re-explain the scissor machine his dad invented. To be honest we still don’t understand how to use the machine very well! I’d imagine it takes many years of training for the eye to detect the ideal blade alignment.

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The portrait above is of Daisuke Tajika. As one would expect, he has a heavy responsibility moving forward as the next in line to manage his family’s business. Although it’s a big task, after spending the week with Daisuke and getting to know him, everything about his heart, mind and creative spirit, has us confident that the next evolution of the Tajika studio is in good hands. We will miss him and cannot wait to meet again later in the year for another update.

Special thanks to Jacob and Ari for their help in the installation setup. To our friend Stefan Ayon for capturing photos during the opening reception and for being ‘on point’ with his scissor puns. Thank you also to the Tajika family’s friend, Noriyasu, for his wonderful translations the whole night. To Matthew Puntigam of Dandy Farmer for preparing the green touches and to Matthew Johnson for providing the black and white behind the scenes images that lined the walls of our gallery. Again a huge thanks goes out to Pablo Luis for the music and Ayako Kurokawa of Burrow for the pastries.

The Tajika scissors and shears collection will be available for a limited time after the exhibition and a selection will be made available online in a few weeks.

angelique



Spotlight on Tajika

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With our upcoming Tajika exhibition just around the corner, we wanted to delve a little deeper into the relevance of showcasing over 80 pairs of different handcrafted scissors! As one of our client’s said it best, “You know how crazy that sounds, right?”

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We met the Tajika family before we even started the store. We liked the family’s story so much because for multiple generations they have been incredibly focused on one craft and one craft only – the art of making scissors. We knew we needed to have their scissors available when we launched because they were a brand we could truly stand behind with their incredibly well handcrafted products. At the time, many people gravitated towards their Copper Household scissors but when we visited their two-story studio in Ono city we found that they also produced many other types of scissors that were just as fascinating for the reason that each were directed towards a specific purpose. It made us think that the most basic tools that are taken for granted, could actually be specialized.

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Since our first encounter with the Tajika family over three years ago, we’ve been slowly collecting scissors that contribute to the way we see the simple act of cutting in our everyday lives. For example, the SLD Steel Fabric scissors are the scissors that Angélique uses to cut fabric and the Household scissors are what we use to wrap gifts at the store. Prior to this, we only used one pair of scissors for everything, admittedly with dull blades and plastic handles. It was only after discovering Tajika that we realized it’s quite a joy to use the right tools for the right purpose.

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Members of the Tajika family, originating with Daisuke’s great-grandfather, have been the only owners of the company, making it a family-run business for four generations. Decision-making, production, marketing, even packaging is done by the family members. At the moment the team includes three people: Takeo Tajika, his wife and their son, Daisuke Tajika and the three literally do everything themselves. Daisuke is in line to succeed his father. With this great responsibility, he expanded the company and created what is officially known as the TAjiKA brand, which currently has about seven or eight pairs of scissors, for example the Branch and Root Shears, Garden Clippers and Herb Shears, just to name a few. Many of the other specific types of scissors are in reality the brand TAKEJISAKU – the original scissor brand that Daisuke’s forbearers conceived. In a way, we are catching the brand and witnessing their evolution during a transition of ownership between father and son.

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Much like their scissors, it’s fascinating to see machines that the Tajika family has developed for specialized tasks. Whether large or small, each machine in their atelier, located just across the street from their home, is meant to help produce an important component of a single pair of scissors. When we inquired further about the machines, we discovered the most captivating part to be how the father, Takeo Tajika, actually engineered most of them. We couldn’t believe that he had invented and made a lot of the apparatuses and tools that solve different scissor production issues that they have encountered throughout the years. Although the company was an inheritance, Takeo Tajika has clearly helped to push the boundaries of their manufacturing capabilities with his ingenuity.

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It’s also refreshing to see Daisuke put his own spin on things. Whether he creates a new pair of scissors or expands on an idea his father created, it’s interesting to hear the stories of all these developments collide and flourish from nothing into tangible products. Each pair of scissors has a story and we’re really excited to be a small part of it with the introduction of our very own pair of Tajika x Nalata Nalata scissors, ‘The Blackened Scissors’ that will first be made available on the exhibition opening night and online soon after!

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The Tajika collection, scissors that we consider to be the finest in the world, is created from the minds and hands of one family and to support an extinguishing craft is quite gratifying to say the least. I guess this exhibition is particularly meaningful to us because of the transformation we’ve seen Tajika undertake in just a few years. Four generations in and Daisuke Tajika is taking a huge leap of faith to represent the Tajika company, the one his great-grandfather started over a century ago, to showcase at their first international exhibition in New York in the pursuit of finding opportunities and connecting with new communities. When people ask us why we started Nalata Nalata, this studio is a good example of why. It goes without saying that a history as rich and an expertise as rare as the Tajika family’s should be shared with the world.

stevenson



TAJIKA Exhibition – Scissors and Shears – Oct 21-28

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“An Exhibition of Handcrafted Scissors and Shears”

We have been planning this upcoming exhibition for quite some time and are very excited that it’s almost here. We are even more excited to tell you about the details!

On the evening of Friday, October 21st, we will be celebrating the official launch of a one-week exhibition at our gallery that will showcase the complete collection of scissors and shears by Tajika! Over 80 pairs of different handcrafted scissors and shears for specific purposes will be on display. Join us on this special evening as we welcome the atelier’s fourth generation owner, Daisuke Tajika, to New York City for his first international exhibition!

To coincide with the opening, we will also be introducing a collaboratively designed pair of scissors – the “Blackened Household Scissors” by Tajika x Nalata Nalata. The shape of this pair of scissors is based on the much-loved Copper and Household Scissors that we carry and use in store when we wrap gifts, but the finish is very different. We were inspired by the “Kuro-Mura” blackened brass pendants by Futagami because we really liked the way they aged over time, taking on a patina that is a very deep, saturated black. We were very interested in creating a similar richness in shade and decided to work with Daisuke to produce a pair of everyday scissors that has the same principles.

Details are as follows:

• Exhibition Dates: October 21st – 28th, 2016
• Opening Reception: October 21st, 7:00PM-9:00PM. Meet Daisuke Tajika. Pastries provided by Burrow
• Venue: Nalata Nalata, 2 Extra Place, New York, NY, 10003 

Note: The scissors and shears on display can be purchased with the exception the Tajika family’s archive pieces. Pick-up dates of items sold will be organized at checkout and begin following the final exhibition day.

stevenson



RAW – Hender Scheme Exhibition Recap

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What an incredible show! Last week we held our RAW exhibition – a showcase of leather homewares by Hender Scheme. Here’s a quick recap of the event, starting with some images of us setting up the show with the Hender Scheme team and leaving off with images of the opening reception.

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Hender Scheme designer Ryo Kashiwazaki and his team arrived a couple days before the exhibition and hand carried a few delicate items with them for the show, including their new leather rugs and cushions.

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Gota is one of Hender Scheme’s designers and makers brought on by Ryo as the company began to expand several years ago. We first met Gota during this trip. He handcrafts many of the in-house Hender Scheme homeware items like the rugs. There he is above inspecting one of his creations. The alternating smooth and rough leather pieces are hand cut and hand-patched utilizing the same techniques derived from the making of Hender Scheme’s footwear collection wherein the soles of each shoe requires layering multiple pieces of cow leather to form a durable base.

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Steve and I got married over the summer so Ryo surprised us with the sweetest wedding gift – a couple pairs of his signature shoes. Steve got a pair of the Manual Industrial Product 14s and I got a pair of the Hender Scheme x Karimoku sandals. We can’t wait to see them age over the years.

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The team also presented us with two lanterns that they had custom made at one of the many lantern workshops in the historic Asakusa district of Tokyo, an area that is also home to the Hender Scheme headquarters. One lantern displays “Nalata Nalata” in Japanese characters and the other means “Hender Scheme.” We hung them in the corner of our store in commemoration of our collaboration.

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Our favorite neighborhood florists, Adore, prepared a beautiful floral arrangement in a Tetsuya Otani ceramic vase for the event…

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…And our good friend Stefan Ayon hand stitched a natural veg-tan leather cover for our entrance door handles. They look stunning and we’re going to keep them on for a bit to see how the leather holds up over time as a handle.

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On opening night, Ryo surprised everyone by showing up in a traditional Japanese kimono and setta slippers. He looked amazing!

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The opening reception kicked off to a great start. With SŌTŌ sake sponsoring the refreshments, the drinks were flowing all night. The sake is brewed in the Niigata region and is so smooth! If you live in New York you can get it at Bowery and Vine, a great liquor store around the corner from Nalata Nalata.

We were also lucky to have our talented friend Pablo Luis DJ the opening reception, which added the perfect vibe to the night. He created a mix exclusively for RAW that you can listen to here.

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Although the ever so humble Ryo was caught off guard by fans that wanted to have their Hender Scheme pieces signed by the designer, he was more than happy to give autographs to anyone who asked. These natural veg-tan leather pieces already look so beautiful as they age, we can’t even imagine how much added value they will have down the road with the addition of a rare autograph.

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The Hender Scheme x Karimoku chair was prominently displayed in the store which gave people the opportunity to take it for a test run. The chair is remarkably comfortable with a wood seat that feels sculpted in a way that hits all the right places and a leather panel that supports the lower back slightly.

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All in all, the exhibition was great times! We had a blast hanging with the entire Hender Scheme team (pictured above) in New York for the week. Thank you to everyone who came out and to the people who were a part in making this show a success including Pablo Luis for the beats and our good friend Stefan Ayon who had camera in tow capturing candid moments during the event, not to mention that awesome leather door handle. Also special thanks to our friends Riza Arrieta and Faraday Okoro who kept sake in hand for all!

Exhibition items are still available for purchase and a selection will be made available online in the upcoming week. Feel free to contact us for additional information regarding a particular piece.

angelique



RAW – Hender Scheme Exhibition Sept 9-14 – NYC

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We are pleased to announce the details of an upcoming exhibition, entitled RAW, at our Manhattan gallery.

Join us on the evening of Friday, September 9th for the launch of the first ever Hender Scheme homewares exhibition. Head designer, Ryo Kashiwazaki will be in attendance as we showcase the full collection of leather home products by the brand. The highlight of the exhibition includes a new chair, rug, and lighting amongst other leather-focused items. While Hender Scheme has become internationally renown for their footwear line, their homewares also adheres to the same standards of quality and innovation that we have grown to love. Each product is handcrafted to age beautifully over time and features Hender Scheme’s signature natural veg tan leather.

Details are as follows:

• Opening Reception: Meet Ryo Kashiwazaki and the Hender Scheme team. September 9th, 7:00PM-9:00PM. Drinks provided by SŌTŌ sake
• Venue: Nalata Nalata, 2 Extra Place, New York, NY, 10003 
• Nearest Metro Transit: F (2nd Ave), 6 (Bleeker), BDF (Broadway Lafayette)

Note: All items on display at the exhibition can be purchased. Pick-up dates of items sold will be organized at checkout and begin following the final exhibition day.

stevenson



Spotlight on Hender Scheme

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We are beginning our next lineup of exhibitions with none other than Hender Scheme. We couldn’t be more excited for this one! More details to come but for now, mark your calenders! The exhibition will be held at our NYC store in early September. The opening will be on the evening of Friday, September 9th. As we prep for the show in the coming weeks, we will be focusing on stories and behind the scenes features of the brand, starting with this Journal entry. 

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On our last trip to Japan we paid a visit to Hender Scheme’s founder and designer, Ryo Kashiwazaki at his headquarters in Tokyo. Here are images from that visit that include a few of the leather home goods you can expect to see at our upcoming exhibition. Over the years Ryo has become a really great friend of ours. It’s been a joy watching his brand develop and seeing the work that goes into his collections. Although we only carry Hender Scheme home goods at our store, we love seeing the process of his footwear collections unfold at his studio. The footwear sketches and final products are always innovative much like Hender Scheme’s leather home products. 

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The Hender Scheme offices occupy an entire four floor building located in the Asakusa neighborhood of Tokyo. It has awesome views of the surrounding neighborhood from his rooftop where the team often goes for breaks. Ryo situated the offices in this area to to be near his footwear manufacturers. These makers are skilled in traditional leather shoe smithing, something that not too many people still know how to do. Many are actually going out of business due to overseas manufacturing. Amiss this growing pressure, Ryo likes to work with these artisans, giving them a way to continue their craft. One that is slowly being lost. 

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Since Ryo recently had a baby he has been quite the busy man but he is always so generous with his time, showing us around to his favourite restaurants and bars in Tokyo. We’re looking forward to finally being able to return the favour when he comes to New York in September.

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We hope to see you all at the exhibition!

angelique



Japan 35mm – Part II

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It’s my first time in the country, and the world I find myself in seems completely deliberate. The path of each bicycle, the cadence of each step—there’s intention. It’s not simply carrying out a chore, it’s more the fulfilment of a duty. Satisfaction, versus mere acceptance. It’s a subtle shift, and it makes a world of difference.

This ubiquitous pride in the small things is impossible to conjure unless, generation after generation, people have devoted themselves to the value of their traditions. You find proof of this devotion everywhere. From the kindness of shop owners, to the depth and quality of the products they carry. A knife, crafted in the same manner for hundreds of years, will prepare recipes that have been perfected thru repetition. Those dishes will be served on tableware formed by that same artistry, and known intimately by the individuals sitting down.

There’s a communal heritage connecting each routine to the next, creating undeniable balance. A collective harmony worthy of its process. What a feeling it must be, to be certain of the legacy you’re deepening. What a treasure to be so sure of your days.

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matt