Jessica Hemmings

Textile Writer

New at NUNO

NUNO_Scrap_Yard_NailsBY JESSICA HEMMINGS

What’s New at NUNO?

Over the past 18 years, the NUNO name has become synonymous with a style of textile design that seamlessly blends tradition and technology. Describing itself as a combination of “traditional aesthetics with the latest computer and synthetics technologies,” NUNO has balanced a revival of traditional methods alongside aggressive research and development. Headed since its inception by Reiko Sudo, the team of some dozen designers that make up NUNO is based in Tokyo, Japan. The company plans to soon open a store in the United States, in San Diego, California.

The company’s philosophy calls for a hands-on approach, with every designer having multiple tasks and responsibilities within the company. During regular concept meetings, new design proposals are put forward by all the designers. The varied sources of inspiration, from a song to a set of bent accordion-style shutters, determine the next year’s experiments and innovations.

Many of the fabrics produced by NUNO incorporate high-tech materials, and the computer has, from the outset, been an essential design tool. Nevertheless, celebrated fabrics such as Feather Flurries, part of the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, rely on the maker’s hand for their originality. This fabric earns its name from the feathers captured in the pockets of the double weave. To place the feathers, the loom must be stopped and the feathers manually inserted with each repeat. Another labor intensive design is the Scrap Yard series, which harnesses the natural process of rusting by sandwiching metal plates or nails between two layers of rayon cloth. Several days later, when the fabric is washed and rinsed, the stains from the rusted metal have created a one-of-a-kind pattern. The Enshuku, or Salt Shrink series, uses a Japanese sea-water-reactant treatment adapted for use in a modern textile mill. The Glued Paper series uses a synthetic adhesive to paste traditional Japanese paper called washi onto the surface of velvet to form a pattern of dried persimmons. In all of these cases, a high level of technological sophistication is paired with a simple, often organic, process.

Last year, the first of the NUNO WORKS line came to life. The WORKS line comprises silk-screened printed of strong geometries and bold colors. These prints are a dynamic departure from the company’s woven fabric line, and further blend the division between old and new, expected and unexpected, functional and bizarre. The first NUNO WORKS space opened in the fashionable Aoyama district of Tokyo, and plans are currently afoot for a second NUNO WORKS retail store in San Diego. NUNO’s overseas expansion reflects the continuing international appreciation of modern Japanese sensibilities. Meanwhile, the NUNO team continues its quest to explore and expand the limits of contemporary textile design.

FiberArts Magazine (Nov./Dec. 2002: 12)