The bold commercial architecture of fashion designer Issey Miyake
Photo: Denis Dailleux/Agence VU/Redux
There is a stereotype that the uniform in the design world is something black. But more aspirationally, it’s nonsense Issey Miyake. Steve Jobs’ signature black turtleneck was a Miyake design. Zaha Hadid made Miyake a wardrobe staple in the 1980s, starting with its crinkle fabrics. But it’s the Pleats Please collection of pleated garments, which Miyake began developing in 1988, that seems to be the uniform of gallery openings, design fairs and art-world parties. The line was born out of his belief in “a style that would not be restricted to any particular age or profession, and that would be inspired by current aesthetics.” The pieces are comfortable enough to wear all day and keep their shape no matter how long they’ve been stuffed in a suitcase. Interior designer Rafael de Cardenas recently said City & Country what to wear clothes from miyake Pleated Man is “a good way to look stylish when wearing sweatpants”. The designer has designed clothes like an architect: in terms of structure and volume, experimenting with materials and manufacturing processes to help him achieve his ultimate goal of creating clothes that represent contemporary life, or as he said in 1999, “to try to provide answers to those who are asking questions about our time and how to live in it. August 5, Miyake died in Tokyo aged 84 from liver cancer.
Miyake, born in Hiroshima in 1938, became interested in design after coming across two bridges sculptor Isamu Noguchi made in the city center, which he called “the spiritual support of the people.” He studied graphic design at Tama Art University in Tokyo since fashion was not part of the curriculum before finally moving to Paris in 1965 to study tailoring. In 1970, he founded the Miyake Design Studio.
Throughout his career, Miyake has maintained a close relationship with the world of design through the architecture of his boutiques, and has often bet on young firms. In the early 1970s, he worked with Shiro Kuramata, then an emerging furniture and interior designer, on a retail space in Tokyo. In 1985, he commissioned a young David Chipperfield for his London boutique. “The design of his shop on Sloane Street marked the start of my career”, Chipperfield wrote on Instagram in memory of Miyake. “For three years afterwards, I traveled around Japan designing a series of small shops for him. It was a fundamental and formative part of my design experience. When he hired French designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec to create a showcase in Paris, they had never designed a space. “Just a few objects” Ronan describes. “But he was confident. Among so many exceptional aspects of Issey, the help he gave to so many young designers was extraordinary and perhaps less known. Architect Toshiko Mori, who designed Three Miyake shops in New York between 1989 (her first location in the United States) and 2005, was only 38 when he initially hired her. Other architects who created stores for Miyake include Frank GehryOki Sato from the Japanese company Nendo, and Emmanuel Moreaux. Tadao Ando collaborated with Miyake on the design of the 21_21 Design Sight museum in Tokyo, inspired by the “A Piece of Cloth” concept. One of the brand’s most recent projects has been the conversion of a 200 year old man Machiyaor townhouse, in Kyoto by Tokujin Yoshioka, who also directed The Milanese flagship of Miyake. The creators loved Miyake, and in return, he loved them back.