suzusan Designer interview
Creation technique and relationship with materials

A designer interview project which focuses on the thoughts of creators to approach the background of creation.

This series features Suzusan, which has modernized Arimatsu Narumi Shibori, a traditional shibori tie-dyeing technique that has been inherited in the Arimatsu Narumi area of Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, for more than 400 years.

Hiroyuki Murase, born as the 5th generation of the family of Suzusan Shoten which inherits Arimatsu Narumi Shibori, started a new business in Germany and has arranged the traditional products from a unique point of view.

In the second session, they talked about the method of creation, the relationship with the material, and the obsession.

Hiroyuki Murase

Based in Düsseldorf, Germany, Hiroyuki Murase, who was born as the fifth generation of the family of Suzusan Shoten, reinterprets and arranges the traditional Arimatsu Narumi Shibori technique which has been inherited in the Arimatsu Narumi area of Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, for more than 400 years.

He introduces collections that combine the tradition of Arimatsu Narumi Shibori with modernistic components.



He is the editor-in-chief, working mainly on the behind the scenes work.

He worked as a stage and advertisement photographer before joining the company in March 2019.



"We combine what is found on the base to create something new."

This shirt features an antique botanical print pattern with shibori. The technique used is called "Boshi shibori".

Bringing modernity to tradition through trial and error.

---Specifically, how do you incorporate the technique of "Shibori (Squeezing)" into your work?

I didn't study fashion and I don't know anything about patterns and other technicalities, so I wrote down my general image first and then I made modifications to the finished product.

I leave that to others, but I decide what type of shibori to use in my work.

As shiborizome (tie-dyeing) is a special technique, you have to think backwards from the time of completion and understand the process of tie-dyeing to make it.

---That's Mr. Murase's role?

Each process of tie-dyeing is carried out by its own division of labor, but in the Arimatsu region, there are different roles and techniques that have been handed down from one family to another.

In the production process, we decided on a "mold" and asked each family to have their own technique, we were in a position to see all the techniques from a bird's eye view. Luckily, having been born into such a family, I know who to ask to make the pattern I have in mind, so I take that and put it into the design.

I'm the one who understands this best so I'm in charge of everything.

---Did you learn your skills from your father?

When I came back from Germany, I studied a bit, but a big part of it was self-taught, watching my father's work and imitating it.

My father, as the fourth generation of the shibori craftsman, had been working for a long time, he was very knowledgeable about which pattern and technique to use, I learnt a lot by looking at them and asking myself, "What would happen if I did this?”. Whenever there was a question, I would ask him about it.

Until now, I still do, but my father's skills and knowledge helped me a lot.

If my father had been in charge of other processes, I don't think it would have been possible for us to develop a brand using shibori as we do now.

By combining the technique of shibori, you can create new possibilities.
It is not just a traditional craft product, but the idea of proposing it as a state-of-the-art fashion shines.

The ideas spread from a different point of view.

---Do you also make new patterns?

Basically, I don't make new techniques, and of course I sometimes use them as they are, but I sometimes combine them with the shibori and arrange them in a new way.

Specifically, we are applying existing techniques such as the width and thickness of the stitches, the way the cloth is folded, and the type of tools used in the dyeing process.

It's a technique that limits what you can do, but the range of things you can do depends on how you combine them, so I'm always thinking about creating new ideas.

The reason is that traditional artisans have very advanced techniques but if they use these techniques as they are and they may be too powerful and overwhelming.

Even though the technique of shibori is simple, I try to arrange and change it in the dyeing process.

These are the clothes we wear in our daily lives, so I make them with that in mind.

---Where do you get your ideas for the pattern?

The original tradition was to make yukata out of cotton, which is what we are doing now. However, I focused on the secondary processing aspect of the technique.

In other words, I thought that I could use any material as a [primary processing], and that the processing method could be arranged in various ways, such as dying or removing colors.

---The core of the brand is the use of shibori and then the idea of materials, processing and dyeing, can you elaborate more on that.

It can be cashmere, alpaca, or mohair, or heat can be added to the material, and depending on the method and material, even if the same technique is used, the pattern can appear completely differently, and that's what makes it so appealing.

When I open the fabric after every dyeing session, it is sometimes better than I imagined, and sometimes it is different.

In the process of wrapping the fabric with thread, wrinkles and folds are pinched and squeezed with thread.
The fabric becomes three-dimensional and when the thread is pulled out, the pattern appears without dyeing the area during the dyeing process.

He is very particular about the materials he uses.

---Do you select all of the fabrics for your work yourself?

That's right.

I've had many people introduce me to factories and production areas, and since I like to go to factories, I visit them myself and am always looking for them.

I'm very particular about a lot of things.

For example, this cashmere scarf made in Nepal is a large 150cm x 260cm hand-loomed scarf, but normally it cannot be made by hand with this width.

I couldn't figure out how they made this size by hand when I asked a Japanese machine shop.

What's more, it's very light, weighing only 100 grams for its size.

It's exciting when you're looking for fabric and suddenly come across a material like this.

---Are you looking both in Japan and abroad?

Yes, this scarf is from Nepal, but I also use alpaca from Peru and linen from Lithuania for the blanket.

For the Japanese ones, I use cotton fabrics from Bishu and Shizuoka.

There are a lot of really interesting things to look for.

In Japan, the weaving technique and the quality is very high, but in terms of interesting materials, many of them are from overseas.

----What is the main point of choosing materials in terms of both interest and quality?

Since I had to add shibori, I took into consideration how I could process the image to make it more interesting.

In that sense, it might be similar to choosing ingredients to cook with.

---Do you also make original fabrics?

We do.

However, I don't often make things from scratch.

When I'm making a product, it's not so much that I want to make it but rather that I'm talking to the factory about what I'm looking for now and I'm more likely to get the ideas and put them together.

We believe that if we leave it to the experts to make good products, they will make good products.

There are also times when I go to a factory and ask them to make something in a different color from something I happen to see.

---The spirit of the division of labor is alive and well, isn't it?

That's true if you ask me.

It's not like we're going to do everything ourselves.

Maybe it's better to leave things to those who can do them better.

I select materials that I think are interesting and of good quality.
They are always looking for not only in Japan but all over the world.

---Do you have any unique or unusual fabrics that you've used so far?

For the next season (autumn/winter), I'm thinking of doing an opal finish on velvet.

I've always wanted to do it, but instead of dyeing it, I'd like to melt that part to bring out the pattern, or something like that.

I'm currently working on a prototype of an expression in which the material of the front side is melted and only the material of the back side remains.

---It's an interesting idea!

There are certain restrictions but you can play with whatever materials you choose, and there's still a lot of choices and things you can do and that makes it fun.

There are so many wonderful things that don't require thinking of a pattern from scratch, and there are artisans here in Arimatsu who can make them, so we have an environment where we can focus on thinking of ideas, including fabric selection.

Since the technology has been around for 400 years, it has a very solid foundation and I have a sense of security that I can rely on it.

We asked them about their methods for selecting fabrics and incorporating them into their designs.

Next time, we'll talk about the spring/summer collection and what the future holds for the brand.

2020SS Collection