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minä perhonen / minagawa akira TSUZUKU exhibition

minä perhonen / minagawa akira TSUZUKU

This exhibition is divided into several chapters, the nature-inspired names of which were chosen to represented the minä perhonen brand’s creative endeavors.
On your tour around the displays, please consider the meaning of each title as characterizing the respective part of our work.
They represent at once different viewpoints that will hopefully convey the aspect of “continuation” in creative work and its connection to the human mind. Please enjoy the exhibition as an introduction to the design of minä perhonen as a brand that aims to build connections between creator and user, while expanding around such continuous relationships and cycles.

Akira Minagawa

On the example of “tambourine”, one of the minä perhonen brand’s most representative embroidery patterns, this chapter showcases the process from the development of one design, via its translation into cloth, to the creation of garments, interior, and various other products. The smoothly circular embroidered pattern of tambourine, composed of 25 little dots, was first unveiled at the 2000-2001 Autumn/Winter collection. With irregular intervals between the dots, and varying heights of the embroidered parts, the unevenly shaped circle carefully reflects the hand-drawn character of the original design.

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pieces of clothes
minä perhonen has been engaging in creative work that is not influenced by fashion trends. Uninterested in clothes that are mass-consumed in short cycles, the brand produces garments that can be worn repeatedly and for a long time across the seasons. Gathered here are clothes made in the 25 years from the brand’s establishment up to the 2020-2021 Autumn/Winter collection, presented as a largescale installation comprising more than 400 items. The displays are not arranged in chronological order, highlighting the philosophy of minä perhonen that does not distinguish between the latest fashion and clothes of the past, but considers all to be of equal value.

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life and design
Through the video that is shown here visitors can connect to the “everyday” of people wearing the clothes of minä perhonen. Design is born in the atelier, translated into textiles by craftsman, before the final products in the form of clothes embark on their journey accompanying people in their everyday life. Portrayed here are four regular minä perhonen customers in four cities-Yamagata, Okinawa, Tokyo and Paris - who showcase their daily routine in both work and private life. The video was made by Hikaru Fujii.

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design for textiles
The most characteristic aspect regarding the creative style of minä perhonen is defined by the process of working out designs from cloth, and subsequently making them into clothes. On display here are design sketches for fabrics by Akira Minagawa, Keiko Tanaka and the in-house designer. Their original drawings for printed designs characterized by overlapping colors and hand-drawn lines; designs for knitted patterns made with consideration given to such details as threads and weaving processes; and sketches for embroidery suggesting techniques of repetitive patterning and three-dimensional stitching, are then passed on to textile factories, where the best artisans in the country slowly and carefully make the designs into fabrics. The total number including different colors and types of base cloth is amounting to about 3,000.

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minagawa akira
The illustrations that Akira Minagawa made for the Asahi Shimbun’s “Nichiyo ni omou” series (ongoing since 2016), and “Mori e ikimasho,” a novel by Hiromi Kawakami that was serially published in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun in 2016/17, are dominated by a delicate touch that sets them apart from his textile designs as a very unique kind of art. In recent years, Minagawa has also been creating wall paintings and other larger works, including colorful drawings of imaginary creatures on acrylic panels for the Crayon House picture book Haiku na ikimono (realized in collaboration with Shuntaro Tanikawa). The focus here is on the expansive activities of Akira Minagawa as a creator of individual original works.

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idea and study
Starting off as a fashion brand, minä perhonen gradually expanded its scope of operation with the addition of an original furniture line in 1999, and a tableware collection in 2008, while collaborative projects with brands and creators in Japan and abroad keep increasing. Highlighting the brand’s past, present and future endeavors, this chapter introduces the philosophy and creative ideas that form the backbone of Akira Minagawa and his brand. The “shell house” in the back of this exhibition room is a prototype of Minagawa’s own future vision of “simple, comfortable housing.”

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memory of clothes
Whenever we go out to buy clothes or other products, how far we thinking into the future after our purchases? minä perhonen has been aiming to produce clothes that do not lose their appeal over time; fashion that stays, grows and changes with us over the course of many years, and eventually becomes a part of us. The focus here is on 15 clothes and their relationship to their owners, illustrated along with episodes told by people about themselves and their favorite garments.

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25 years
The brand that, according to Akira Minagawa’s idea back when he started, was going to “continue for at least a hundred years,” celebrated the 25th anniversary of its establishment in 2020. The exhibition closes with a display tracing the history of the minä perhonen brand, and interview footage in which Akira Minagawa talks about his idea behind this exhibition.


Text: Chika Mori(Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo), Yoshitaro Inami(Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo), Ayako Kawada(Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art)

minä perhonen / minagawa akira TSUZUKU
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo: since 16th November 2019 to
16th February 2020
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art: since 3rd July to 8th November 2020

Photograph : L . A . TOMARI

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