Seeing the beautiful knit-patterned Zaishu that Kirsten designed this week reminded me that I haven't shared mine here yet. I have admired these elegant little stools for years, and after we moved last year I thought one would be really useful for the new house - we don't have a coffee table, because I like to leave the space on the living room rug clear for lego playing, sprawling and dancing, but it is useful to have somewhere to put a cup of coffee and I found I was balancing mine on top of the cat scratcher, which is neither a practical nor aesthetically pleasing solution. But, at the time there were only a couple of Zaishu designs available (there are far more now), and while they were beautiful they didn't seem right for our space. So when Matthew Butler, the man behind the Zaishu project, offered workshops where you can design your own Zaishu I jumped at the chance.
I knew I wanted to incorporate my love of Japan and textiles, and to use different kinds of images (photographs, collages etc. ) for the different panels, but with so much scope it was hard to narrow it down. With input from Matthew I finally came up images for the three panels:
This is a photo I took on the way back to our apartment in Tokyo, a view I saw every day. I converted it to black & white, and replaced the sky with blue polka dots.
For the top I scanned some linen fabric I had dyed with indigo.
And for the smaller side I scanned some linen fabric for the background, and then used a grid to frame scanned scraps of favourite Japanese fabrics.
The grid is based on the 麻の葉(asa no ha) / Hemp Leaf design which is a popular traditional Japanese design. I had seen it on paper and fabrics, and even on the wall of our local sushi takeaway here in Sydney, but didn't know what it was called until I started googling for "Japanese Hexagon Design" when I was working on the Zaishu. I found a couple of links with some interesting information and background:
Some EPS downloads of traditional Japanese patterns, including Asa no Ha here.
Some history and examples of use here.
More examples and background here.
Information on the use of Asa no Ha in kimono here.
I usually design things for print and screen, so it was very exciting to see something I had designed made up in 3D. The Zaishu has had so much use since it arrived here, and I love how simple and functional it is. It's also lovely to have a piece of furniture that incorporates family stories and memories.