Soaring Creativity of Byobu Folding Screens -2
TOKYO – In this part, more unconventional works will be introduced. This byobu uses a stole that a real nun brought in. She wanted to use her own stole for her byobu. Parts of her stole are cut out to paste onto the façade, unaltered; the parts with the stole are of the thicker cloth, adding depth.
Like this one, parts of clothes, including a kimono, can be cut out to be used in a personalized screen. If the kimono patterns are flowery, it produces cheerful light into the room. This means that the byobu is no longer a simply divider, but a piece of decorative furniture as well.
A lady brought in some of her late husband’s neckties to make a memorial byobu. These neckties were her husband’s favorites when alive. She wanted to live with her husband even after he had gone. By incorporating his characteristics, the byobu design became like American POP art. Now she enjoys seeing and using this byobu in her room all the time.
Sometimes a very difficult challenge comes fluttering into this store. A university professor asked Kyoicihi to make this one using acrylic holograms. Patterns and colors alter depending on the viewing angle. Every time you walk by the byobu, you can enjoy different patterns. Since the material acryl was difficult to handle, this one was one of the most demanding projects to complete, according to Kyoichi.
It’s not only cloth or plastic that can be incorporated into byobu. Shippoyaki is Japan’s traditional glass art. Glass powders will make a colorful pattern once they have been put through a melting furnace. This customer requested that Kyoichi use this shippoyaki work in a byobu. As you can see above, the facade is much thicker in order to enclose the glass art. This prime example shows that even a glass byobu is possible.
As interior decoration, an unfolded byobu can work as a wall painting. Byobu are born to be folded, but use when unfolded like this one is also creative. Today, a photo can be printed onto washi paper and the paper can be turned into byobu material. Once, a well-known Japanese photographer asked Kyoichi to make such a byobu by using one of the photographer’s huge works.
This photo also shows an example of alternative interior use. Initially this customer asked to make a blind so that passersby couldn’t see into the room through the window. However, if a byobu was going to be used, why not make it harmonious with the background wall? Kyoichi proposed to make the color naturally blended to the room. Each face has a different pattern and color. This work is placed under the TV careen in front of the window. Not only is the design of the byobu congruous with the background of the room, but it is also a fine piece of interior design.
As you can see, byobu vary. Byobu play multiple roles, depending on the situation. Both function and artistic beauty are required to serve a good product. It has to stand firmly and easy to fold and unfold. It has to fit into a small space when folded. While abundant creativity attracts today’s young workers, sophistication of the frame is a must to make a fine byobu. Some of them have five processes to complete the production. Unless demands are high, a small product can be finished in 10 days or so.
Kyoichi’s cheerful personality made us feel that he really enjoyed this job. If he enjoys creativity so much, more customers will be more demanding, won’t they? Kyoichi said, “The more challenging the request might be, the more worthwhile it is. I feel proud as a craftsman.”
What’s important in today’s Japan is probably the spirit of sustaining long-standing traditions while developing them in innovative ways. Japan should propose the combination of establishment and novelty to the world. The dynamism of limitless creativity and responsibility for perfection was exemplified at Kataoka Byobu Store in the midst of downtown passion.
Credited photos provided by Kataoka Byobu, no-credited photos and text by Motomi Takahashi