Fashion Legend Kenzo Takada Discusses His Home And Lifestyle Brand K3
It’s been more than two decades since pioneering fashion designer Kenzo Takada quit his namesake brand in 1999, but he has never stopped creating. After taking several years off to travel, he started to miss work and decided to join the world of home decoration, a field in which products have a longer shelf life than the feverish pace of fashion collections.
Now, at the age of 81 and overflowing with unbridled energy, Takada has launched a new home and lifestyle brand in collaboration with managing partner Jonathan Bouchet Manheim and creative assistant Engelbert Honorat. Three years in the making, K3—whose logo is represented in Japanese characters by three horizontal strokes—made its debut with a 300-piece collection crafted by Italian and Japanese artisans. Presented at the Maison & Objet fair held in January in Paris, the brand also simultaneously opened its first showroom on the city’s Left Bank.
For Takada, design is about the art of living. “Design can be used to improve your sense of well being through the use of colours and patterns together. It’s about harmony, joy, comfort and contrasts,” he says. “For K3, we want to bring a mix of cultures, poetry and joie de vivre (joy of life in French). My ideal interior is one where comfort invites you to stay at home. I like something that is soft and poetic, not aggressive. I like to dream.” For instance, his wallcoverings propose peaceful images of the sky and landscapes, providing the impression of escape.
One of the first Japanese designers to settle in Paris, Takada surmounted stereotypes against Asians in the fashion industry at the time. Having made a name for himself through joyous and colourful graphics, his emblematic style can now be found in K3. Some aspects came naturally to Takada, like conceiving cross-cultural aesthetics that delight both Asian and European audiences—something he had introduced in the 1970s before Japanese designers Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake made headlines at Paris Fashion Week.
With the preciousness of the fabrics, lightness of forms and refinement of lines, Takada continues to build bridges between East and West. “I thought when I reached 60 that I wanted to stop working and retire. But in the end, I keep starting over again and again and again, even now at my age. I’m very lucky.”
The collection is divided into three themes. The masculine, restrained Shogun line is dominated by black, white and gold, which is balanced by the feminine Maiko range in rosy shades that uplift the spirit while recalling the kimonos and make-up of young geishas. The nature-inspired Sakura range features delicate hues embodying harmony and tranquillity.
Among the standout pieces are the magnificent Japanese two-panel lacquered wood screens handmade in Tokyo. It depicts a kimono in rice paper and either gold, silver or pewter leaf (seen above). Other top picks include a low ceramic table honouring ikebana that can be used as a vase, a rimmed top where petals can be left to float on the surface, as well as a Louis XV-style armchair upholstered in a Japanese-patterned textile and modern ikat pillows that were made in Italy.
Forming part of the brand’s visual identity, the creations are adorned with a motif paying tribute to kintsugi, the 15th-century Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver or platinum to highlight cracks and holes instead of hiding them. The technique is also a symbol of psychological resilience associated with the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi—the beauty of impermanence and imperfection. This reference to embracing flaws renders his objects even more beautiful and taps into the idea of recycling instead of throwing away.
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