Japan House London launches exhibition of critically acclaimed textile designer Sudō Reiko



Japan House London presents an exhibition showcasing the innovative work of textile designer Sudō Reiko. Running 6 February ‒ 16 May 2021, the new exhibition, with art direction by Saitō Seiichi of Rhizomatiks, shines a spotlight on the Japanese designer pushing the boundaries of textile production and championing new methods of sustainable manufacture.

Design Director of leading textile design firm NUNO for over 30 years, Sudō trained as a textile and industrial designer, and she designs fabrics that incorporate traditions of Japanese crafts with new engineering techniques and unusual combinations of materials. She works with materials as diverse as silk, hand-made washi (Japanese paper) nylon tape and thermoplastic, and technologies derived from Japanese hand craft traditions such as caustic burning, weaving and dying. Her inspiring designs are currently housed in collections around the world, including in MoMA in New York and in the V&A in London.

Sudo Reiko. Photo courtesy: CHAT (Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile), Hong Kong
Sudo Reiko. Photo courtesy: CHAT (Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile), Hong Kong

The exhibition at Japan House London includes five large-scale installations of Sudō’s work with the manufacturing processes brought to life by Saitō Seiichi’s artistic direction. Using a variety of thought-provoking processes from washidyeing to chemical lace embroidery inspired by rolls of paper, each installation is accompanied by drawings and sketches, alongside raw materials and design prototypes.

Visitors to the exhibition encounter a series of installations that demonstrates the ways in which Sudō uses innovation and creativity to make steps towards building a more sustainable global textile production industry, with particular focus on the sustainability of materials, regional manufacturing industries and craftsmanship.

Sustainability of Material

See how Sudō harnesses unconventional materials such as washi alongside textile techniques such as heating and bonding to create entirely original works.

Not to be missed, Kibiso Crisscross, a collaborative project with the Tsuruoka Textile Makers Cooperative, takes discarded kibiso, the protective outer layer of silk cocoons and uses a specially developed machine to create yarns from the tough remnants, creating the first step towards realising the ‘no-waste, use everything potential’ not previously seen in the silk industry.

Sustainability of Regional Manufacturing

Explore the origins of Sudō’s work, following her decades of work with family-run factories across Japan which specialise in different production techniques, collaborating with each to develop new, alternative production methods to push the possibilities of industrial machinery making and help revitalise these regional manufacturing hubs.

Sustainability of Traditions and Craftsmanship

Discover Sudō’s designs that revive old textile machines and Japanese craftsmanship on the verge of disappearing. Learn how she incorporates intricate craftsmanship into industrial textile production, collaborating with different experts and artisans along the way to help preserve craft heritage through upcycling and reinvention.

Vitrine showing the development and inspirations of Nuno textiles. Photo courtesy: CHAT (Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile), Hong Kong
Vitrine showing the development and inspirations of Nuno textiles. Photo courtesy: CHAT (Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile), Hong Kong

“Japanese textiles are born of a long history, embracing both refined traditions of artistry and unparalleled high-tech materials. Since 1984, Nuno has collaborated with skilled local artisans all over Japan using a wide variety of different fibres and techniques to craft some 3000 different textiles. Among these are the richly textured maku partitions to be displayed in the centre of Japan House London’s ground floor. Much more than a mere ‘curtain’, these textiles afford entry into a visionary realm with a uniquely Japanese essence. Please step inside and be transported into our weaving wonderland,” comments Sudō Reiko, Textile Designer and Design Director of NUNO.

Simon Wright, Director of Programming, Japan House London, adds: “We are delighted to be able to bring this brand-new exhibition adaptation of innovative Japanese textile designer Sudō Reiko’s remarkable work to the UK for the first time. Originally shown in Hong Kong and curated by Takahashi Mizuki, Executive Director and Chief Curator of CHAT (Centre for Heritage Art and Textile), this exhibition brings together the immense creative talents of Sudō Reiko and artistic director Saitō Seiichi. At Japan House London, we are adding further depth to the exhibition by examining the themes of sustainability and regionality found within the wide variety of NUNO textile manufacture.”

About Sudō Reiko

Sudō was born in Ishioka City, Ibaraki Prefecture. After serving as a textile laboratory assistant in the Department of Industrial, Interior, and Craft Design at Musashino Art University, Sudō helped found Nuno Corporation. As Nuno’s Design Director, she combines Japanese traditions of dyeing and weaving with cutting-edge technology to create a wide range of innovative textiles. Sudō received an honorary MA degree from the University for the Creative Arts (UK), and has been an Emeritus Professor at Tokyo Zokei University since 2019.

Since 2008, Sudō has worked in fabric planning and development for Mujirushi Ryohin (MUJI) and the Tsuruoka Textile Industry Cooperative, and in design advising for AZU. She joined MUJI’s Advisory Board in 2016. Recipient of the Mainichi Design Award, the Rosco Design Prize, the JID Award, and many other honors, Sudō has received high acclaim within Museum of Modern Art (USA), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA), Boston Museum of Art (USA), the Victoria & Albert Museum (UK) and Crafts Gallery, The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (JPN) among many others. Representative projects include textile designs for Mandarin Oriental Tokyo, the Tokyo American Club and Oita Prefectural Art Museum. Sudō is frequently invited to give lectures and hold exhibitions around the world, including the major Koi nobori Now! textile installation at the National Art Center Tokyo in 2018 and Sudō Reiko : Making NUNO Textiles at the Centre for Heritage Arts & Textile Hong Kong in 2019.

Japan House

Japan House London is a cultural destination offering visitors the opportunity to experience of the best and latest from Japan. Located on London’s Kensington High Street, the experience is an authentic encounter with Japan, engaging and surprising even the most knowledgeable guests. Presenting the very best of Japanese art, design, gastronomy, innovation, and technology, it deepens the visitor’s appreciation of all that Japan has to offer. Part of a global initiative led by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are two other Japan Houses, one in Los Angeles and the other in São Paulo.

Safety measures

Japan House London has received Visit Britain’s ‘We’re Good to Go’ Standard, to reassure guests that they can visit Japan House London safely (once current restrictions have been lifted).

Japan House London is closed from 5 November 2020 and will reopen when the national lockdown has been lifted (currently planned for 3 December).  For further details see: www.japanhouselondon.uk/covid.

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