Wednesday, October 28, 2009

YOKO IZAWA

Nylon Covered Polypropylene Petals Bracelet
Though not open to the public the modest Imperial Palace of Tokyo, Japan is a lovely representation of centuries-old architecture with its coffered ceilings, parqueted floors, and gabled rooftops.

The palace's storied history includes two fires, the first in 1873 and the other 72 years later in 1945. Japan is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Yoko Izawa.

Without doubt, jewelry design is a deeply thoughtful process. It is an exploration of what constitutes beauty. Through the eyes of a designer beauty can be a link of simple, crystal beads or unembellished matte gold.

Beauty can be a single, uncut lapis stone or a splatter of tiny diamonds. Beauty can be classic and simple, ornate, or unconventional. There seems to be no limit to what defines beauty in jewelry and of course, the designs of Izawa represent this concept.

Like Meiri Ishida's felt jewelry items, Izawa's use of colored, knitted nylon wrapped around polypropylene plastic gives her pieces that intriguing tactile textile element.

While Ishida's jewelry was partly an expression of whimsical humor, Izawa's design approach rests in structural ambiguity. She cites the non-descript arrangement of Japanese kimonos when not being worn, and the multi-faceted Shinto religion as influence.

"I feel that the sense of beauty and value within my culture molds my work," she says. "I feel more comfortable when the work has a quality of transience or ambiguity." In 2003, she received a Masters of Fine Art in Silversmithing, Goldsmithing, and Metalwork from London's Royal College of Art.

Izawa initially created jewelry with conventional materials. Creatively open she explored other materials appreciating the flexible, light characteristics of polypropylene plastic.

Izawa's Veiled Collection blends circular or oval-shaped cutouts of polypropylene, which are inserted inside small, tubular pieces of knitted nylon. Izawa implements a knitting machine, dye and a machine press to complete the creation process.

The blanketed, smooth curves and twists of Izawa's "ambiguous" polypropylene designs are at once otherworldly, ultramodern, and delicate. Though she cites vagueness as her design approach, there is also an element of familiarity.

Her creations are very fluid in their construction resembling objects in nature. The disc-shaped links in many of her necklaces and bracelets, for instance, are patterned after the soft forms of petals.

One necklace, called Discs, is not only the color of a green, Granny Smith Apple, but the manner in which the item is presented look exactly the way an apple peel curls as you cut it away from the apple.
Nylon Covered Polypropylene Neckpiece

Izawa's Clear Sphere Necklace seems to take on the floating, apparition-like appearance of small, linked jellyfish; while the delicate design of a teardrop-shaped neckpiece resembles an ethereal lantern or eternal flame.

Of her inventive, covered jewelry, Izawa says "My interest has been for some time in containing, wrapping, or covering things. My search was for something elusive," she explains.

"The function and material nature of jewelry does not concern me as much as the presence and feeling of an object."

For additional info on Izawa's creation process, check out the London Crafts Council's YouTube video of the designer at work.

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