Hiroshi Awatsuji (1929-1995) was a groundbreaking Japanese textile and graphic designer known for his contemporary designs, deviating from traditional art and craft. He was born in Kyoto and played a significant role in revolutionizing Japanese textile design.
Awatsuji attended the Municipal College of Fine Arts in Kyoto until 1950. While most students at the local art university focused on studying traditional crafts, he took a bold step and pursued design, which was still in its infancy at the time.
After graduating, Awatsuji joined Kanebo, Japan’s premier textile manufacturer based in Kyoto, where he worked until 1958 when he ventured out to establish his own business in Tokyo. Throughout his career, he collaborated with Fujie Textiles starting in 1964, a collaboration that allowed him to produce vibrant and bold new ranges of interior fabrics.
In his own showroom, Awatsuji showcased his designs, featuring abstract patterns on thickly textured fabrics that showcased his weaving skills. His innovative approach garnered attention, leading to notable commissions such as designing furnishing fabrics for Tokyo Hotels in 1971-72 and creating tapestries for IBM Japan in 1982.
Awatsuji’s work broke away from traditional Japanese design from the mid-1960s onwards. His bold and colorful printed textiles were a departure from the norms of the time. Notably, his multi-layered black and white patterns from the late 1980s evoked fantastical flowers and imaginative textured landscapes, while his painterly abstracts from the 1990s were printed or woven in intense or delicate tones, showcasing his versatility and artistic vision.
Philosophy and Contributions
Awatsuji believed that design should be derived from everyday life, enriching living spaces. He extended his creativity beyond textiles, venturing into the creation of tableware. Additionally, he developed the concept of “autonomous surfaces,” which referred to interior textiles that defined the qualities of an architectural space. His vision of enhancing living spaces through design marked him as one of the most innovative post-war Japanese printed textile designers.
Hiroshi Awatsuji’s legacy as a pioneering figure in Japanese textile design is indisputable, with his contemporary approach and oversized motifs leaving an indelible impact on the field.
Selection of Works
A Companion to Textile Culture. (2020). United States: Wiley.
Jackson, L. (2002). Twentieth-century pattern design : textile & wallpaper pioneers. United Kingdom: Princeton Architectural Press.
Wikipedia contributors. (2020, February 24). Hiroshi Awatsuji. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:00, June 1, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hiroshi_Awatsuji&oldid=942366506