Ryuto Design

I’m an Okinawan textile designer who mostly lives and works in New York City. I’m acutely aware of my predecessors, the Okinawan textile designers before me and the generations that we can trace all the way back to 17the century Okinawa Design Bureau of Art and Crafts called “Kaizuri bugyou.” This was the era of the Ryukyu Kingdom, during which Okinawan art and craft influenced and was influenced by cultures throughout the Pacific. When I design products using classical Okinawan textile patterns, I often think about their origin, and the people who created them. I dedicate all of my Okinawa textile-inspired product designs to them sincerely. The credit is all theirs, though I help a little to make them fit our modern living. I believe that the exquisite culture of Okinawan Textiles should evolve with time and be introduced and shared internationally.

The foundation for “Ryuto Design” begins with the classic motifs of bingata and kasuri weaving created for royal family attire. They were unique designs passed down from one generation to the next. With textiles, in particular, no other country in the world has as many variations as you find in the islands of Okinawa. From these historic public domain works, I’ve conceived modern products for everyday living. Featured here are examples from the collection, many of which may be seen in full at http://www.ryutodesignbyjashiki.com.

Men’s Open-Collar Shirts

1) PLAID WITH SWALLOW. An 18th-century classical woven pattern for the Royal family. I enlarged and brightened its colors. 2) SUNNY SHIMMERING SEA. Yaeyama jofu: handwoven choma–Japanese word for hemp–fabrics. Jofu were commonly used for summer kimonos in Japan. 3)WAVE AND SAIL created with a classic nautical bingata pattern.

Bottom: Okinawa traditional textile patterns (1st, 2nd, and 4th shirts from the left) and New York-inspired images (stripe and check, 3rd and 5th shirts from the left).

Women’s T-Shirts

1) FLOWERS AND WAVES (left). In traditional Japanese kimono pattern design, motifs consist of seasons. There are no such restrictions on Okinawan design; waves, summer patterns are mixed with maple, fall patterns. 2) CAMELLIA FLORAL. The sketch-like flowers and leaves of this bingata flora pattern is a unique design. 3) TEJIMA PLAID WITH SWALLOW IKAT. The plaid looks like tartan, but the difference is that Okinawan plaid usually mixes with red and white twisted yarn for accents. 4) YELLOW PLAID WITH SWALLOW. A bold yellow Tejima plaid with ikat motifs.  Yellow was the noblest color in the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Unisex and Men’s T-Shirts

Top row: 1) UCHUKUI WRAPPING CLOTH. The crane and turtle are drawn on the front. Pine, bamboo, plum, crane, and turtle are drawn on the back. These motifs are all considered auspicious in Japanese culture. 2) INDIGO ABSTRACT IKAT. Chic and modern, this all-over abstract ikat design is versatile and appears in several collections. Bottom row: 3) INDIGO FLORAL WITH DRAGONS. A classic Aigata stencil dye design. 4) MEN’S V-NECK BLUE HANAORI. Hanaori is the term that describes an Okinawan weaving technique. For this T-shirt, I created a print version. 5) MEN’S AYA-NU-NAAKAA. A simple stripe and arrow ikat pattern.

Sarong/scarf collection

1) UCHUKUI SARONG. Uchukui is the Okinawan word for wrapping cloth (furoshiki in Japanese.) This Uchukui is printed on Georgette fabric. 2) AI-GATA FLORAL WITH DRAGON. Classic Aigata (indigo stencil dye) floral. 3) CAMELLIA FLORAL. Elegant and stunning, perfect for resort. 4) BANJO, BLACK AND WHITE ALL OVER IKAT. Banjo means carpenter’s square in Okinawan dialect. This is a simple stair ikat pattern with two dash lines. It is summery and perfect for the beach. 5) INDIGO ABSTRACT IKAT. The Okinawan Ikat design is quite unique. Their motifs are geometric or abstract, and each represents an element of landscape or objects of daily life.

Accessories

Top row: 1-2) MEN’S WALLETS: FLOWERS AND DRAGONS, NIGHT WAVE, and GREEN HAND STRIPE (lattice pattern with kasuri). Smooth printed nappa leather. 3) WOMEN’S ZIP PURSES, MEADOW FLORAL. I’ve used this small floral for many products in my collections. Nappa leather. Bottom row: 4) SHOPPER BAGS IN CLASSIC PATTERNS. Waterproof printed canvas with leather handles. 5) LEATHER TOTE, TEJIMA. Smooth or textured printed nappa leather. 6) WOMEN’S LOAFER, FLOWERS AND WAVES. Printed canvas.

Dining

Clockwise from top left: 1) NEW YORK STRIPE. I used my signature stripe for this cup and saucer. All the stripe lines are perfectly matched from saucer edge to cup rim. 2) BINGATA CLOTH NAPKINS. 3) GLASSES from left to right: Indigo Sky, Plaid with Birds, New York Stripe, Flowers and Waves, and Flowers and Dragon. 4) BINGATA KOMON IN TWO COLORWAYS. Small floral design in the white and blue ground. The white ground design is colorful, and the blue ground is subtle and sophisticated. 5) FLOWERS AND DRAGON TABLERUNER.

Home Textiles

Clockwise from top left: 1) DECORATIVE PILLOWS in a variety of designs. 2) BEDDING: DUVET COVER AND PILLOWS in Indigo Ikat pattern. 3) THROW PILLOWS with Crane and Turtles design.

AC Hotel by Marriott Tokyo Ginza

The Ginza triptych exemplifies exquisite craftmanship with refined sensibility and taste. Constructed for a site overlooking the hotel reception room, its new levels of inventiveness convey sophisticated aesthetic concepts. I created the three images, and the Jacquard was printed at a European textile mill.

Ginza, triptych 129 x 40, 40 x 40, and 40 x 40 inches Jacquard weaving, 2020

Tapestries

A special project has called me back to the loom after 30 years. One unique characteristic of Okinawa weaving is its geometric patterns. For my tapestries, in place of Okinawan weaving techniques (and materials that aren’t readily available in the U.S.), I have adapted a Western double-weave process to recreate the beauty of Ryukyu kasuri on my floor loom. I prepare the woven patterns and colors with software before the handloom operation.

Empire State, 30 x 112 inches, double weave, wool, 2019

kaen

kaen – 花苑 – flower garden

Kaen, Shibatacho Gallery, Osaka Japan

A Long time ago, I was a civil service employee working in Okinawa doing preservation work of traditional Okinawa handicrafts.  One day, I was invited to observe the firing of old Okinawa ascending kiln – a big and elongated house-like structure that was built in the pottery district of Tsuboya, Okinawa more than hundred years ago. The kiln had not been used in many years and its firing that day was a trial run in the first step toward its registration as a national treasure of Japanese architecture.  After the firing, the old potters who gathered at the kiln for an all night vigil enjoyed drinking awamori (a local liquor), and talked about the good old days. Sitting next to these aged potters in my business suit, I felt out of place.  I listened to the conversation without paying much attention to the details. “That was the time of Hana (full bloom) of our life” one potter said in a middle of the conversation. Although I can’t remember anything else they said during that long night, those words of that one potter stuck in my mind then and have been in my head ever since. Those words gave me a reason to cross the ocean to live in the different, unknown country – the U.S. –like the Hana (flowers in full bloom), I had to bloom.

Atos Gallery, Okinawa Japan, 2014


tea ceremony screens

I call my recent work “tea ceremony screen.” These are smaller folding screens made of double-layered silk organza or habotai. They’re light weight and quite unique. Organza screens are airy, semi transparent, and have a moiré effect. As for the habotai screens, each screen has different texture-like pattern printed on its back side. Perfect for Japanese tea ceremony room, or can be used as wall art for super modern interior design.blue fall 01a  “Blue falls”, pigment print on double layered silk organza, Tea ceremony screen, 130 cm x 92 cmblue fall 01b

Petals, Conservatory Garden, Central Park“Petals, Conservatory Garden, Central Park”, pigment print on double layered silk organza, Tea ceremony screen, 252 cm x 76cmSlide7 dark

forsythia 01S“Forsythia, Central Park”, pigment print on silk habotai, Tea ceremony screen, 200 cm x 68 cmSlide15

nature & design

Nature and Design, The RFA Gallery, 2011. Art prints on fabrics.

” The images that I create on fabrics–ideas that primarily come from nature and landscapes –naturally suggest functional aspects. In the particular case of “Water,” first I felt movement in the image. Second, though I used many shades of blue, ecru and white, there is something pristine and clear about the resulting fabric. ”

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