Innovation, beauty, extensive research, technology, craftsmanship, originality and accurate design all merge into Issey Miyake’s creations. Now, the Japanese multidisciplinary creative is exhibiting his two new bag models, named Obi and Konbu, at the 21_21 Design Sight gallery in Tokyo until February 18.
The Miyake Design Studio takes on many endeavours, all of which follow the same approach: getting to know perfectly their product, materials, manufacturers, and processes. As a result, the pieces they make, from clothing to accessories and objects, have this rich and luxurious essence while keeping a low-key, subtle look. And their newly presented products, the Obi and Konbu bags, aren’t an exception.

On the one hand, the Obi is named “after its shape when folded flat, resembling ‘obi’, a kimono sash”, says the studio. It comes in three traditional Japanese colours – ‘urushi-red’, ‘urushi-black’, and ‘shikon’ (navy-purple) –, is made with a special yarn that hardens with heat, and has the capacity to transform from a flat rectangle to a voluminous silhouette.

On the other hand, the Konbu “is a bag that is smooth in texture and is firm enough to hold its three-dimensional shape”, and is dyed in twenty-one different colours –all of which can be seen (and bought) at the Japanese gallery. It’s also made with special yarns, only these are thin and “treated to shrink to a quarter of its original size”, which involves a long process by hand.

To get to know their secrets, the Miyake Design Studio has created some videos that show how these two new bags are made, and they’re exhibited together with panels of components that showcase their details. Will the Obi and Konbu become as iconic as previous designs by Issey, like the Bao Bao? Only time will tell, and in the meantime, we can do nothing but enjoy the exhibition.
The Obi Konbu exhibition by Miyake Design Studio will be on view until February 18 at 21_21 Design Sight, 9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo.
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