Shop         Info          Press           Cart

Mark
    

TMS Features –

The Allure of Japanese Craftsmanship


#inconversationswith Naoya Gomi, Founder of CIPANGO




Image: Yanase Washi

① Tell us a little about yourself and what inspired the brand CIPANGO?

I created CIPANGO as the engine behind my desire to revitalize traditional artisans, their workshops and local economies by creating global access to their expertise. As a child coming of age in Japan’s bubble years, the quintessential cultural icon of the kimono, like other arts and crafts, held little relevance to me. But after decades with a multinational engineering firm abroad, I returned to Japan’s post-bubble society to observe that even the celebrated domain of Japanese artisanship was falling prey to the vagaries of financial decline. Family workshops and craft studios struggled to keep their refined techniques sustainable.

I had the capacity to appreciate kimono for its distinct composition of silk threads, embroidered patterns, textile dyeing—a series of intricate technologies orchestrated into a single product.


   



As an engineer, I grew conscious of these scarce techniques and began to treat them as extant solutions to problems that transcend their established traditions. Through the countless custom-design possibilities in weaving, metalwork, paper and stenciling techniques composed of sustainable or low-impact materials as silk, metal, bamboo and reclaimed timber, I then opened an avenue for a market of creative exchange.

CIPANGO is a niche social enterprise that matches architects, designers and other project professionals in the building, design and luxury industries with select artisans in Kyoto and other handcraft-rich regions. As a comprehensive platform, we facilitate end-to-end collaboration between global clients seeking to access artisanship for 21st-century solutions and traditional craft workshops with a proven record for generating custom-made materials out of their centuries-old techniques.

Signifying the riches across far-flung cultures, CIPANGO originates from Marco Polo’s appellation of “Zipangu” for Japan during the medieval swell in new trade routes. While the explorer depicted Japan as a legendary “land of gold,” CIPANGO’s contemporary concept acknowledges the creative assets in time-honored local industries. We foster growth in the application of heritage techniques to address today’s aesthetics and concerns in global building and design. Through the mutual support of homegrown makers and worldwide industries, CIPANGO is built on discovery and exchange that its historic name imbues.

At CIPANGO, we aim overall for enduring impact that will transform the mindsets and practices, not only of indigenous makers and global professionals, but also of younger generations to embrace sound and sustainable artisanship across cultures for new applications around the world.


Do you personally have a favourite product from the 3 brands that will be available on TMS: Curator’s Select E-Store? If yes, why?

I love them all, but if I were to pick 1 it would be Miyake. It is a great example of business where there is a need to ‘change’ their way of thinking to keep their business going as the market for the original products are decreasing as we speak.  Mr. Miyake is an innovator and a risk taker to shift its former bread and butter product to an industry which is new and unknown to him.  He was also able to take something very traditional and put it in a form that is fit for the market not only in Japan but globally.



Miyake’s Yakimura Black. Image: Miyake

TMS: Curator’s Select E-Store:
https://shop.statecreative.com.sg/

③ What do you think is the future of traditional Japanese craftsmanship?

Craftsmanship is continuously changing but also has the need to keep the tradition going.  They are in a tough situation especially because a lot of them are reaching their retirement age.  The tradition and the techniques has to be passed onto the younger generation who also have it tough as they need to keep the tradition and at the same time adapting it to the current needs of the global market.




About CIPANGO

CIPANGO is a niche social enterprise that matches architects, designers and other project professionals in the building, design and luxury industries with select artisans in Kyoto and other handcraft-rich regions.