When I was sorting through my documents recently, I found a copy of an essay given to me by Mr. Yohji Yamamoto during my tenure at Y's.

Taken from an essay by Ango Sakaguchi, known for his “Darakuron” (“On Decadence”), it was a copy of a page entitled "Cinema.”
It began with the sentence, "Film should not be art. If you peer at things through the lens of an artistic atmosphere, you'll never make a good film.” The words "film" were deleted from the sentence, and replaced by the word "design" in Mr. Yohji’s own handwriting.
“In creation, the most natural thing to strive for is (to be accurate). There is nothing else.”
These words, in parentheses, had been handwritten and underlined to indicate their importance.
“Just be honest and try to be accurate in your impressions." And, "Be subjective! I recommend having a strong subjective view.” The essay ends with, "Have a simple eye,” next to the underlined words, "be accurate in your impressions" and "have a simple eye.”

These words can be said to reflect a designer's attitude. When I read it over, the words still have weight.
After nearly thirty years of design activities, I suddenly find myself wondering, "What is design?" This article is one answer to that question. I also wonder, "Is there really a goal in design?

There were two times when I was asked to draw a design for the Yohji Yamamoto Collection Femme. The first time was less than a week after I had joined the company as a new graduate. The president (Mr. Yohji) called me in and asked me to draw a design, not a commercial one, but one that could be submitted to a design contest. He told me to work on just that for one week. Since no one from the school I graduated from had ever worked at Y's before, I had no information about the company, so I didn't know what it meant to be asked to draw a design. I gradually came to understand that at the Yohji Yamamoto Collection Femme & Homme, Mr. Yohji was the only one who drew designs.

I drew designs for one week, and on a good day I was drawing 90 designs a day. Every night, I would submit my finished designs on the president's desk and go home. In fact, I was so used to drawing designs that I was confident that I could produce results even if I had to draw all day, so the week went by uneventfully.

Nonetheless, even after the promised week had passed, I had not received any other instructions. I asked my boss about the situation and he answered, "If that's what the president ordered, keep working until he tells you to stop.” I was a bit taken aback by this unexpected turn of events, but of course I had no choice but to continue.

It was difficult to keep drawing with no end in sight, but what made it even more difficult was answering phones. While I was trying to draw a picture, sitting in my seat, naturally, I had to answer an outside line that was ringing in front of me, as I was the newcomer. It was the room used for the fabric project, so there were a lot of calls. In addition to the president's private office on the upper floor, there was also a seat for the president and a seat for the head of public relations, so there were many calls from important people. Once in a while, Ms. Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons would call the president, and during those times he could not be reached, so I was in a panic all day long. I would try to switch my focus and think of a design, but the phone would ring again. Hearing this over and over was much more difficult than I had imagined.

One month would pass before I was told to stop, finally freed from the grueling days of being forced to draw only design pictures. I wonder how many thousands of pictures I drew during that time?
Now that I think about it, however, I think that from the second half of that period onwards, the president wanted to see how far I could continue to draw new designs within my limits as a designer, rather than to see what I could draw.

When I first received the order to draw a design, Mr. Yohji gave me two pieces of advice: the first was that I should not scribble anything. The other was, "When you sit down to draw a design, sharpen your pencil, prepare a piece of paper, and start drawing. You are already at the bottom of the totem pole,” he told me. "At this point, your eye is tainted; unfocused. Hence, you will only come up with tainted designs that you have convoluted in your mind.”
“So what should you do? The only thing to do is to keep drawing.” he said. "Keep on drawing. Your body will remember and the pencil will run on its own, rather than thinking with your head. There is no other way to create a good design."
And for the second time, I imbibed the lessons of the Ango Sakaguchi essay. Now that I think about it, I realize that I saw the same nuances in the essay as I had the first time I read it, when I got the directives for the design work.

Last year, I watched a documentary about the production of the Yohji Yamamoto Collection Femme.
I was amazed because it was as if time had stood still, completely unchanged from the time when I was working there. Seeing the attitude of exploring new designs, the way of proceeding, the temporary fittings, I felt nostalgic.

Several top brand designers have been on the front line for a long time, for decades. I think that they instinctively realize that the only way to find the "answer" to their design questions is to keep trying. They realize that in the end, only by continuing to work can they see the finish line.

Isshi KANAMARU 2022.3


それは ” 堕落論 ” で知られる坂口安吾さんのエッセイのコピーで、 ”映画” というタイトルで書かれたページの写しでした。
「映画は芸術であってはならぬ。芸術的雰囲気などといういいかげんなものに目を細めているから、ろくな映画が出来ない。~」から始まる文章。その文の中の ”映画” という言葉を消し代わりに自ら手書きで、 ”デザイン” という言葉に書き換えられているものでした。
「創作に於いて最も当然に努めなければならぬ事は、(正確を期する事) であります。その他には、何もありあせん。」そのカッコ内の言葉が重要と記するために、手書きでアンダーラインを引いてある。
「ただ実直に、印象の正確を期する事一つに努力してみて下さい。」そして、「主観たれ!強い一つの主観を持ってすすめ。単純な眼を持て」で終わっているエッセイ。やはり ” 印象の正確を期する事” と “単純な眼” の脇にはアンダーラインを引いてある。


ヨウジヤマモト コレクション ファム のデザイン画を描かされていた時期があります。
描かされていたのは、2シーズンで、初回はなんと新卒で入社し一週間も経たないうちのことでした。社長 (耀司さん) に呼び出されデザイン画を描くように指示され、しかも商業的なものでなく、いわゆるデザインコンテストに出すようなものを書いて欲しいと言われ、一週間それだけをやって欲しいと云われました。自分が卒業した学校からは過去ワイズに入社した人がいなかった為、ワイズ内の情報が全くありませんでしたのでデザイン画を描かされることがどういうことなのか、分かっていませんでした。でも入社後徐々に状況を把握することが出来ました。ヨウジヤマモト コレクション ファム オム 共にデザイン画を描いているのは、耀司さんだけでした。





一つは書き殴りはダメだということ。もう一つは、「デザイン画を描こうと、椅子に座るだろ、鉛筆を削り、紙を用意し、描き始める、もうその時点で、卑しいんだ」と云われました。「人間の頭の中で捏ねくり回した卑しいデザインしかもう出てこないんだ」と。「ではどうすればいいのか?というと、描き続けるしかないんだ」と。「描き続け、頭で考えるよりももう体が覚えていて勝手に鉛筆が走っている感覚、それしかないんだ」と云われました。その坂口安吾さんのエッセイのコピーを戴いたのは 2回目の時だったので、今思うとそれに通じている言葉を既にそこで戴いていたのだと ( あの頃は目の前のこと以外考える余裕がまったくありませんでしたので) 、今頃になって気付かされました。

昨年、ヨウジヤマモト コレクション ファム の製作風景を追ったドキュメンタリー番組を拝見しました。新しいデザインを探求する姿勢や進め方、仮縫い風景など、まるで時がずっと止まっていたかのように自分が在籍していた頃と全く変わらないその光景に、驚きと懐かしさを覚えました。

ずっと長い間、何十年も自らがデザイナーとして第一線で活躍しているトップブランドのデザイナーさんが何人かいらっしゃいますが、きっとその方たちは、やり続けることでしか自らのデザイン活動に対する ”答え” が得られないということを本能的に気づいているのだと思います。結局、やり続けることでしかゴールテープは見えてこないということを。