The Link Collective

The Link Collective

The Japanese craftsmen who hand print the Link Collective's furoshiki have spent their lives perfecting their artistry. They're based in the seaside city of Fujisawa, an hour or so south of Tokyo, and work at the intriguingly named Chiffonez - a family business that has been in operation for over 50 years.

The owner of Chiffonez's printing facility, Mr Fukuda, has been dyeing since kindergarten.

Conjured up by Kyoko Bowskill, the Link Collective is an international network of designers and artisans who print unique, contemporary patterns on Japan's traditional fine cotton wrapping cloths.

Connecting artists like L.A-based Royal College of the Arts graduate Lucinda Newton Dunn and English artist Hannah Waldron with a handful of skilled craftsmen, Kyko's Tokyo-based collective preserves an art form that is just about extinct.

The real feat is that these craftsmen are able to replicate such ornate, multi-layered designs using techniques (and machinery) that have been around longer than my Tutu. Sure, the dyes might be mixed using the exacting science of Pantone, but colouration is still deeply affected by climate and humidity - which means all of their work is done in conjunction with the weather forecast.

It doesn't get more primitive than that.

Most impressive is the quick-fire yet meticulous application of the dye. With a lazy lengthening of their limbs, the craftsmen stretch the cloths over a wooden frame and in a frenzy of flinging, apply specially created dye to replicate a design that's accurate to the millimetre. It's all over in the blink of an eye.

With a skill set this specific, it's little wonder that furoshiki makers are fewer and further between.

“Every year there are less and less [furoshiki] factories, as production is being moved overseas,” Chiffonez's Mr Tanaka says. “There is always a fear that the number of craftsmen will go down, demand will go down, and then what will we do?”

It's true that demand for the ancient furoshiki is slowing, but with Kyoko and her fleet of award-winning designers taking the 'shik to a whole new level, we don't think all is lost.

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Check out Link Collective's furoshiki collection here.

With help from Spoon & Tamago.