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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.