Today, we’re proud to invite Koizumi Sho, founder and designer of Kamitaba, as part of our Meet an Artisan series.
Spiraling upward and outward, the Paper Bouquet was Kamitaba’s very first work. In fact, Kamitaba literally translates to paper bouquet in Japanese! It was inspired by Mr. Koizumi’s work at MISUZUDO, a Japanese company famous for its work on handmade books. During his more than ten years working there, Mr. Koizumi pursued paperwork in his free time, eventually showcasing his work at different exhibitions around Japan.
When Mr. Koizumi was a student, he never imagined a career focused on paperwork. He attended a technical school in Japan which emphasized design and handmade work throughout its coursework. Because his education focused on design, Mr. Koizumi joined MISUZUDO; it was there where he learned to love paperwork as his passion. “When paper is well-organized, it looks powerful; yet when many small pieces of paper are combined, it looks surprisingly charming, too.”
Thanks to ten years of working with paper, Mr. Koizumi became accustomed to its many quirks; eventually, nothing about working with the material surprised him. “But – making a new shape with paper is quite difficult. When I achieve it, it feels really great.”
Mr. Koizumi spent a great deal of time designing and building the Paper Vase series. Many people are already familiar with the aesthetic benefits of ceramic or glass vases; the idea of using paper may strike some as surprising. Mr. Koizumi discovered that the versatility of paper materials enabled paper vases to blend into any environment easily. The Paper Vase series has since become one of Kamitaba’s most popular works.
“When I was originally thinking of this series, I wanted to find a work that best showcased the many great qualities of paper. By coincidence, a Mr. Edo of Kyodo Printing Company happened to see my works at an exhibition. He mentioned that his company had excess strips of paper from the paper printing process and asked whether these could potentially be turned into new works.”
Mr. Koizumi started thinking how he could incorporate these materials into new products. “The paper was actually printing paper, meaning it was softer than what I normally worked with. As thanks to Kyodo Printing Company, I wanted to use techniques related to working with books, and I thought of two in particular: rolling and inserting. I thought I could try using these techniques with this material, so I spent about six months designing and experimenting.”
Mr. Koizumi used the rolling technique to produce the original Shide Roll Dried Flower Vase, while the inserting technique was used to produce the original Cylindrical Dried Flower Paper Vase. “Originally, I tried using inserting to make a Card Holder, but I couldn’t make something that I was satisfied with. One day, I came home and saw my wife putting together a dried flower arrangement. This inspired the idea to make a Paper Vase instead.”
Mr. Koizumi notes that thanks to his passion for the material, he never feels tired working with paper. He often draws inspiration from his daily life, just like the way he was inspired to design the Paper Vase from seeing his wife. But he never forgets where it all started. “Without my ten years of experience at MISUZUDO, there would be no Kamitaba.” Mr. Koizumi is deeply grateful to the company for the many opportunities it has offered him over the years.
In fact, Mr. Koizumi never imagined starting his own brand. It was only after years of working with paper that he started to come up with the first vague idea that would become Kamitaba. Now, Mr. Koizumi not only has his own brand, he also gets to showcase works all over Japan, including numerous workshops for children. This enables children, from a very young age, to experience the sense of accomplishment that comes from working with paper. “Seeing children take small strips of paper and produce something amazing from them is really inspiring to me.”
Mr. Koizumi is grateful that he’s been able to share his paperworks with many people at various exhibitions in Japan. He hopes to share it outside of the country, too. “I would love to introduce more people to the joy of handmade paperworks.”