FEATURE 12Researching the city of Tokyo Orientation of team DCDT
At DESCENDANT, walking around the city of Tokyo, by the director, Tetsu Nishiyama and his production team, is a customary practice. Shibuya and Harajuku are givens, but from time to time, other cities as well. Checking out the shops, observing the people and taking in the city's atmosphere. This, not really being research for the next season, but rather a kind of orientation, to share the experiences of walking around the city.
Nishiyama says, “Because I grew up in Tokyo, everything about Tokyo, created who I am today. In the beginning, a unique mix of culture, high fashion and independent stores coexisted without boundaries in Tokyo, the Ura-Harajuku and street brands were awakened along that line. So, this orientation was started with the idea that we could share our way of thinking and sense for manufacturing, by walking around with the whole team, we can take in the cultures and styles that uniquely cultivate in people's activities throughout the city.”
This time, we started with Kichijoji, to Koenji, then Harajuku. “We walked around all day long. Each city has its own personality, such as its clothing and lifestyle stores, that transmit culture. Restaurants and cafes, symbolized by the old school Japanese coffee shops. People who gather at these places create the town's atmosphere. There are times when a city may go through changes to its atmosphere and shape, with generational changes, but there is also a hometown pride that tries to preserve traditions. We can learn a lot from just walking around. We are not only out looking and observing, but shopping as well. Like Jinichi Uekusa said, there's no fun in just walking around without stores to look at. These walks feels somewhat like a documentary, something I capture every time I shop at secondhand stores for friends souvenirs. When I approach the city with trivia in mind, Im able to shop with many ideas.”
Jinichi Uekusa, is a person that Nishiyama looked up to as a mentor, for walking around the city. Working as a critic of Western literature, films and jazz music, he was also a creator, known for his achievements in spreading subculture to Japan in the 1970's. “My father taught me about him and I also read his book. I was not only impressed by the contents of the book but also the collages, handwritten manuscripts and graphics. Uekusa-san was also from Tokyo and walking around the city was his life's work. I never had the chance to meet him in person, since he passed away at the end of 1970's, but without a doubt, he is a figure that has had great influences on who I am today.”
Although Nishiyama cannot identify with Uekusa-san on a personal level, the city strolls he partakes inspires his creations, feeding off the feelings and information obtained when doing so. A city that shows a new look every time you take a walk, a city that shows you signs of change in between the same usual scenery… This orientation fulfills its meaning when you share the awareness throughout the city of Tokyo. Even if the result are not visible, the team DESCENDANT, will continue making its rounds, believing that it will eventually lead to inspiration.