Haptic Textile by Maiko Tanaka

In  Borås, inside the weaving room of Swedish School of Textile, Maiko has been carefully handling with her weave on a big loom. Her interest with European craft led her way to Sweden from Osaka many years ago. Now the student and mother of a 2-year-old child, Maiko is well-settled in Gothenburg with her husband. The city provides her with inspiration and freedom in design creation.

Her work represents an interesting combination of unexpected materials with a sensual approach that gives her textile work a recognizable impression. Maiko is curious about objects from her surroundings in everyday life. Photography of daily subtle things has finds its way to Maiko’s design process and becomes an essential role for her endless creative work. unusual materials are gradually intertwined under her effort and a fun attitude, which is simply rooted in her weave. With open and warm welcome, Maiko talked to me about herself and her ongoing project titled Haptic.

Ching: So you are from Japan… how do you end up in Sweden?
Maiko: I studied History in Japan. I was fascinated by European culture and historical thing. I particularly interested to Swedish traditional craft. Since Japanese textile is rather precise and mostly exclusive to professionals. It is not open to everyone easily. Very narrow access. But I found Swedish craft very near to people. It can be from the ordinary household. It is not a rare thing for a family having a loom in their basement.

Ching: What was your first impression of Sweden?
Maiko: I was studying in a folk institution which is located in the middle of forest. I thought I have come to a nowhere! On my 2-hour bus ride, all the way is only trees…

Ching: Yea..true. There are so many trees…
Maiko: A lot of trees… and not many people…

Ching: Do you have anyone that is your inspiration ?
Maiko: Um… for example, this current project, I looked at the work of a ceramic artist Mia E Göransson and a textile artist Pasi Välimaa.

Ching: What is your expectation when you decided to do textile design?
Maiko:In the first place, I didn’t expect I am continuing for such a long time. Weave techniques seem complicated but once you get familiar with, you want to explore more…

Ching: What is your working style?
Maiko: Subtle. Something can not be defined. Something in between. And no one has seen before. It is a communication of certain photography and textile work .

Ching:Can you tell me your design process for this current project?
Maiko: Firstly, I gathered images. They are photography I have taken from food, nature, animals… things around me. Then, I did 3D experiment with different materials. After that, I wrote. I reflected on what I wanted to do from these sketches. These reflection is summarised from my sketches and photography. So I can ask myself if my weave work successfully presents my text. Next is to weave!

Ching: What was the favourite project  you have done by far?
Maiko: This one 😀 Or the last one. But I failed my last project. I wanted to work with concept of relation between space and textile. My specialism is weave but I worked too much  with placing the fabric spatially. I was stuck at some point. So I started again in a different approach. It was still related to space but not in the same way. I worked with light and textile to create more space and dimension.

Ching: How will you describe this collection?
Maiko: They are textile connected to your parts of body– skin, …or even tongue! Very much about materials. I have worked around with non-woven tape, plastic, silk… The good thing about weave is to know how materials react. Material is inspiring.

Ching: Can you let me know how are you going to move on with these?
Maiko: I am going to do bigger pieces of them. I want a hug- friendly size. For some pieces I want to hug them. Some I want to step or lie on to feel. So different parts of body can react with them.

Ching: Can you imagine if you go back to Japan…?
Maiko: Now? I want to be in Sweden. It is an open society for me. I feel the freedom from leaving the ideological custom as a Japanese in Japan.

 Maiko has a personal site http://maikotanaka.com/

-Maiko’s weave samples for ongoing project. Images from Maiko.

I am delighted by Maiko’s work. They are ‘happy’ textile. Her work itself looks animated! She told me she thought about some japanese words to describe surfaces she interested. For example, ‘fuwa fuwa’ means soft and fluffy. She asked me, ‘do your language have some kinds of word like these?’ I looked confused and could not think of one single example at all… What has happened with my Chinese…!? Do we have some sound words to describe surfaces?! I don’t really think so…

Maiko is going to have an exhibition display for this Haptic collection. Definitely looking forward to it!  I wish her all the best for her continuous exploration with weave and contemporary craft

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