Graphic design to wear: Ikko Tanaka among the folds of Issey Miyake

Issey Miyake gives a new dimension to the masterpieces of Ikko Tanaka, lending life to an archive to which only he has access, in the name of their friendship.

Ikko Tanaka Issey Miyake No.3. Photo Francis Giacobetti

How to transform graphic design into clothing? How to bring life to the quality, vision and energy of one of the greatest Japanese masters of contemporary graphic design? This is the origin of the personal project by Issey Miyake, “Ikko Tanaka Issey Miyake”, the third series of which was presented yesterday in the Milan boutique. “Exhibited”, plissé dresses, tops, sports clothes in high-quality polyester, sandals and bags; all inspired by the art and graphic design of Ikko Tanaka (1930 - 2002), one of the founding partners of the Nippon Design Centre and the first creative director of Muji.

The collection was created in 2016 and is Miyake’s personal project. It is a tribute to Ikko Tanaka, and his work, a continuous and endless source of inspiration, and is, lastly, a tribute to their friendship (“His work shows the extraordinary power of design”, wrote the Japanese designer for Domus in 2015, “I consider myself very lucky to have met him at the beginning of my career, when I was 20”). In the name of this friendship, Miyake is the only one authorised to use his archive, which is held by the Foundation of the same name.

Following the famous Nihon Buyo posters (used in 2016), there are another three of Tanaka’s works at the centre of this new series: “Gradation” (which has a single hiragana symbol or letter of the alphabet as its subject), “Work: Q” (with the letter Q), both from 1972, and “Rope” from 1974-1979 (dedicated to ropes and Japanese knot-tying techniques).

Read also: Ikko Tanaka's life of freedom and colourful experiences translated into an exhibition at the the 21_21 Design Sight

The clothes are all deliberately simple in the choice of lines and fabrics, leaving the graphics as the true protagonist. The aim is to “create clothes which are full of energy, and which valorise the work of Tanaka, worn in a three-dimensional version. the movements of those who wear them thus give new life to his graphics”. The only rule: the utmost respect for the original drawing.

Ikko Tanaka Issey Miyake No.3
Issey Miyake

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