Sometimes bold, sometimes delicate. Asami Sato, head of the design firm ASENDADA Co., Ltd., has created enchanting lines and patterns for The Art of Textile collection that seem to dance spiritedly off the cloth. Where does her unique sensibility originate from?
Devoting herself fully to a broad range of interests
The company name ASENDADA has a mysterious quality, strange to the ear but also immediately memorable. It means “transform” in Estonian. Original pictures are transformed by textiles, and those textiles are in turn transformed by curtains, cushion covers, and other items that color our daily lives. It’s a word choice that ingeniously captures the essence of textile design.
The textiles that Asami creates begin as original pictures drawn on traditional Japanese paper with India ink or acrylic paint. She opens a simple, white drawer filled with lines, shapes, and colors. The works are drawn using the same traditional Japanese paper and India ink, yet the designs are modern and universal. The path Asami has traveled to create this style is truly unique. “From the time I was young,” she says, “I've always wanted to work in painting since I was little. In high school I chose an art school design course, and it was around that time that I became attracted to traditional Japanese culture and art, and my study of design began with woodblock prints.” At the same time, Asami’s interest in traditional culture expanded to include Kyogen (Noh comedy) as well. On weekends she would travel from her home in Hokkaido to training institutes in Tokyo to take lessons from Kyogen performers, later taking to the stage herself as she became increasingly serious, traveling around the country as a performer. From her student days Asami has worn many hats, including design, woodblock printing, Kyogen, and part-time jobs, throwing herself wholeheartedly into the things that interested her.
Asami buys Japanese paper from special workshops. “I tried various types, but unless the paper is just right it doesn’t produce the lines and patterns I have in mind.”
For colors other than India ink Asami uses acrylic paints, applying it with writing or paint brushes as necessary.
The real pleasure is changing spaces with drawn designs
It was chance that led Asami to textile design. “Woodblock prints are printed on traditional Japanese paper, but there were many types that would wear, and not hold the print as I’d envisioned. I didn’t want to waste the leftover portions, so I’d use it as wrapping paper. It sometimes made patterns that had never occurred to me, and that piqued my interest. While experimenting through trial and error, I began to wonder what would happen if I put the designs on cloth. That was when I became aware of the job of textile designer.” After graduating from junior college, alongside her freelance drawing work, Asami taught herself how to print on cloth, working continuously with a small machine until it was practically falling apart. She gradually began to want to try working with larger fabrics, and incorporating them into interiors and shared spaces.
The turning point came when she was 34, and moved from Sapporo to Tokyo. A business partner who would later become the cofounder of ASENDADA suggested she go to a silk screen studio. “I went to that studio for around three years, and was given the opportunity to learn the entire process, from making the plates to printing on cloth. The things I learned there are still with me today. Beyond just designs for flat surfaces, I wanted to use textile design to transform spaces with color, and that desire has finally been realized.”
On her decision to collaborate with UT, she explains “UNIQLO is a clothing brand, but I get the impression that they want to convey something deeper than just clothing. That interests me. Physically we’re making T-shirts, but we created them thinking about what sort of changes we could produce in the wearer.” Items created on the theme of “late summer” include soft colors such as orange that are reminiscent of autumn evenings, along with dark color variations. This was something Asami was particular about. “I wanted to express the grayish tones that surround us after the sun goes down. I think of it not as pitch black, but a characteristic fall color. The impression can change considerably depending on how an item is worn, so I’m looking forward to seeing people on the street wearing my designs.” Asami’s extraordinary career, and devoting herself fully to varied experiences, has produced designs that exhibit her spirit. Experience that fully in UT.
Asami cuts cloth she designed
Asami says that she finds inspiration in everyday life. One thing she enjoys is looking through Apartamento magazine.
Textiles with large patterns feature Asami’s dynamic lines.
Asami’s studio incorporates smartly arranged vintage furniture.
Project: 2020 by ASENDADA ©Asami Sato
Asami Sato｜Born in 1977 in Sapporo, Japan. Asami began her career in 1997, establishing the Sato Asami Design Studio in 2007, and compiling a wide-ranging portfolio that included retail stores, public space artwork, products, packaging, and editorial work. Raised in Sapporo, a city where the urban and natural worlds co-exist at a comfortable distance, Asami incorporates this perspective of the interchange between nature and city into her textile designs.