by Sunena V MajuMar 21, 2023
Italian luxury fashion house FENDI and Japanese architect Kengo Kuma have come together to reveal a set of high-end accessories for FENDI Men's Spring/Summer Collection 2024. Comprising select pieces of handbags and sneakers, the collection was showcased at the FENDI Factory in Tuscany’s countryside Capannuccia during the FENDI Spring/Summer 2024 menswear show in June. Kuma reinvented the brand's celebrated Peekaboo bag, the Baguette Soft Trunk, and Flow trainers using a natural Japanese palette of material and techniques. The collaboration encapsulates FENDI’s propensity to merge innovation and tradition and Kuma's integration of tectonic concepts with traditional Japanese artistry.
The FENDI accessories were recreated using waranshi—a type of Japanese washi paper made from cotton and tree bark fibers, which is conventionally used in making origami, lanterns, and for kimono detailing. The structural design and the façade of these pieces were composed of the dry, soft and textural fabric of waranshi that rendered the objects a mottled, imperfect finish.
In addition to the use of waranshi, Kuma’s palette also included birch bark that he used to compose another iteration of the Peekaboo bag. Fine pale skeins of the bark shaped the bag’s outer body, while the inner frame is sculpted of Tuscan olivewood. The water-resistant cardboard-like façade of the bag, as per FENDI, is a subtle nod to the brand’s Pequin stripe.
Kuma also incorporated the Japanese practice of 'yatara-ami' or "irregular pleating" weaving, using bamboo strands for a woven lattice-like effect, particularly for the reinvention of the FENDI Flow trainers. Defined by undulating patterns and soft curves, the shoes have distinctive 3D-printed threads wrapped around the soles.
Another iteration of the Flow trainer is composed of a laced and zippered top, a cork insole, and a molded sole made of undyed, biobased polymer-ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA), characterised for its high flexibility and transparency.
Silvia Venturini Fendi, artistic director of FENDI accessories and menswear, welcomes the partnership, noting it as a dialogue between the luxury design house and contemporary architecture, as well as an interchange of ideas between product designers, artisans, and materials. She describes Kuma as a master of naturalist architecture and shares that she feels a sense of kinship with his Japanese approach to savoir-faire. The collaboration, as per the luxury house, also stimulates cultural interchange between creative disciplines, integrating past and present via a true representation of material possibilities.
Speaking of his approach to creative intervention, Kuma says, "Nature and craft have always been at the centre of my work as an architect and a designer. When FENDI asked me to reflect on their bags and shoes, I thought of them like small architectural projects on a human scale."
As a proponent of naturalist approach in architecture, Kengo Kuma's architectural genius is showcased in the collection as his avant-garde concepts are transformed into wearable design pieces. He consciously incorporates natural aspects into the design, as he has done with many of his previous works.
(Text by Irene Joseph, intern at STIR)