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The inspiration behind Shogun Designs

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Having just launched my business, Shogun Designs, I keep getting asked about how this all came about and it only seems right to put pen to paper and tell the story. Despite looking Latino, I am in fact half Japanese/half American. I was born in Yokohama, Japan, although my family moved to London shortly afterwards and I guess that was when my interest in textiles initially began.

As a small boy, my family and I used to spend our summers with my grandparents at their home in Kofu. Yamanashi’s prefectural capital lies deep in a valley, surrounded by vast snow-capped mountains and unsurprisingly is known as the gateway to the Southern Japanese Alps. Back in the day, it was a key hub for the Japanese textile industry. Their house was a big old traditional Japanese wooden house, with a typical minimalist aesthetic. Those silvery/smoky grey interlocking roof tiles adorned the roof, woven tatami mats covered the floors and paper clad shoji screens sectioned off the different rooms. The business faced the front end of the property with the living quarters tucked back in the rear. It was always a hive of activity. Phones were constantly ringing. Reams and reams of exquisitely decorated kimono silks lined the shelves, with a constant stream of people coming in and out. As a curious kid, I couldn’t help but be somewhat intrigued although it was much more than just the environment which appealed.

I remember my grandmother kindly giving me my first textile screen print, a flock of delicately coloured crane migrating for the winter. I was immediately impressed by its simple but refined elegance and the natural balance of colours. Now framed, it holds pride of place in my home.

Naturally, as I grew older and per any typical teenager, other pursuits took hold. However even when I became fully immersed in my working life, the idea of bringing beautiful, high quality but affordable Japanese textiles to the western world was one I couldn’t shake. Eventually I bit the bullet.

After months of research, I jumped on a plane and set for Japan and travelled the length and breadth of the country, living out of a suitcase, moving cities every couple of days to meet a multitude of artisanal suppliers, some of whose textile screen prints you’ll find for sale on my website.

The series currently includes 12 Japanese textile screen prints in three distinct categories: Icons, Legends and Festivals and each piece is made in Japan and hand-finished here in the UK.

I hope you’ll enjoy the these screen prints as much as I do and if you have any comments I’d love to hear from you, just reach out on TwitterFacebook or email me at info@shogun-designs.com.


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