Event report

August 30, 2021

DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021 & Hacking the Known Report

Creating new possibilities from the technology and history nurtured in the local community.

Kosuke Kinoshita

MTRL Director / FabCafe Kyoto Fab Director

Kyoto

Creating new possibilities from locally nurtured technology and history.

Tango, located in the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture, is an area rich in nature, surrounded by the sea and mountains. It is one of the leading silk production areas in Asia, and 70% of Japan’s kimonos are made from fabrics produced in Tango. Not only in textiles, but also in the fields of machinery and metals and agriculture, world-class manufacturing has taken root in Tango since ancient times, and techniques and knowledge have been passed down from generation to generation.

In June 2021, the event DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021 was held for the first time in Tango, with the concept of “manufacturing in Tango that will last for 100 years. During the event, various programs were held online and offline, including OPEN HOUSE, which opened up various manufacturing sites. Despite the restrictions on movement and meetings due to the effects of the new coronavirus infection, it was an opportunity to realize real and passionate communication through various devices.

In this article, we will report on some of the enthusiasm during the event, as well as the new way of thinking about the Tango area as a “high-potential region for the future cultural industry” that was revealed through the event.

– Text by Kosuke Kinoshita, FabCafe Kyoto / MTRL

DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021 Outline

◼︎ Period: June 24(Thu) – June 27(Sun), 2021
◼ Co-organized by: Design Week Kyoto Executive Committee, CADENA Co.
◼︎ Venue: 21 places in total, including workshops, factories and farms in Kyotango City and Yosano Town
◼ Program: Open House (Online / Offline), Talk Seminar (Online), Workshop (Online), Exhibition Planning (Offline)

Official WEB site
https://designweek-kyoto.com/tango2021/

Topic: Rediscovering and experimenting with the potential of technology in the production area using online – An attempt to “hack” Tango Chirimen

As an official program of DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021, MTRL / FabCafe Kyoto held a workshop “Hacking the Known”, in which creators from diverse backgrounds tried to discover new possibilities of the material using “Tango Chirimen”, one of the representative technologies of the Tango area, as a subject. The workshop “Hacking the Known” was held completely online.

With the cooperation of the companies participating in DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021, unrefined Tango Chirimen, which is rarely distributed in the market, was sent to 7 groups of 10 creators from all over Japan as a material. While using online communication tools as well, the workshop proceeded in the following manner.

Lecture on basic information about Tango Chirimen → Experiments using the fabric → Creation of works → Presentation → Exhibition

Over a period of about one month, we created an opportunity for “exchange of knowledge and discussion” that transcended physical distance and the boundaries of specialized fields. Experiments were conducted from different perspectives and approaches of each participant, and outputs included textile design focusing on the process of changing shape and texture, devices that create an environment of “light” and “sound,” tea utensils focusing on “chemical change,” product ideas that packaged the “experience of the scouring process” itself, and even animation using Augmented Reality (AR). The output was diverse.

For more information about the creators and workshops, please see this page.

Works


About half of the creators who participated in the workshop visited the area during “DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021” to conduct interviews and research on product development and art production, and actions that lead to collaboration are actually taking place.

Also, taking advantage of FabCafe’s network of multiple locations, the exhibition project travelled from Kyoto to Nagoya. At FabCafe, which is visited by people interested in a variety of creation and technology, the presentation of Tango Chirimen as not only a “traditional material” but also a “technology with new possibilities for the future” provided an opportunity to update the impressions and perceptions of the production area more broadly. It was also an opportunity to update our impressions and perceptions of the region.

Exhibition@FabCafe Nagoya

Process documentation using Miro

New Possibilities for Tango Chirimen – Participating Creators’ Voices

The purpose of “Hacking the Known” was not only to complete the work, but also to provide feedback to companies and researchers in the production area on the “insights” gained through experimentation and prototyping, in order to create opportunities for discussions and initiatives for new expressions, techniques, and products. The possibilities of the materials that the creators “discovered” while working with their hands are introduced below.

It was an opportunity for us to face up to the nature and interest of the material itself, as we could no longer have a preconceived notion that it was a kimono material with a sense of luxury, but rather see it as a single material.

 

I thought that by opening up the material, it would be possible to cross it with other areas, creating a new chemical reaction and giving birth to various ideas.

 

It takes a lot of time and effort to refine crape, which has a superb texture, and I felt that it would be impossible to distribute it along with the experience. However, the material itself shrinks while wrinkles called “Shibo” appear on the surface texture even when it is just “poured” with hot water. By using this surface texture and shrinkage to create products, I felt that crape before refining could be of great value.

 

This was the first time for me to learn that the unique squeeze of chirimen is born from the microscopic structure of silk threads. In today’s world where the imaginary realm has diverse values, I believe that touching and wearing crape fabric along with information is a very value-added experience.

 

I also felt that the technological concepts that makeup chirimen are similar to those of metal processing such as blades and ceramic technology as ceramics. By intersecting the elements of these technologies at the conceptual level, I thought it would be possible to develop new techniques and applications.

 

I learned about the unique manufacturing technology from the online factory tour. Also, by experimenting at home with my own hands and learning about the works of the mentors and other participants, I realized that I could express a variety of looks and textures by utilizing the characteristics of sericin and devising ways to dye and scour it. By focusing on the structure and compounds of the material from a microscopic point of view, I realized the flexibility of Tango Chirimen, which can be used not only for the traditional purpose of making kimonos but can also be shaped according to what you want to express.

 

I felt that there are many possibilities left in the control of “graininess” and “translucency” of chirimen, which is a unique Japanese fabric. The fact that it is material with a long history makes it a valuable material for learning and discovery.

 

I saw great potential in the scouring process and high-twisted yarn, which is unique to Tango crape. I was fascinated by the depth and mystery of the accumulated history of these two processes, which create the characteristic texture and functionality. The pleasant feeling of silk against the skin (silk, in particular, is said to be 98% the same as the composition of the skin) and the variety of expressions and functions (such as antibacterial and deodorant effects) that it displays in space can be used in a wider range of products and applications.

 

By embroidering with the high-twist yarn used in Tango crape and dipping it in boiling water, we were able to create a three-dimensional effect as if we were smocking. Although we were not able to approach colour this time, by developing the technique, we may be able to create colours and shapes at the same time through embroidery in the future.

 

When we weave a fabric, leftover threads are sometimes generated. This is the remaining thread that is not enough to weave the fabric again. By using this leftover thread for embroidery, we may be able to reuse it as thread and make sustainable use of it in the modern world.

Hypothesis: What is the new value of the Tango area?

The potential of Tango Chirimen was rediscovered and reinterpreted through the “Hacking the Known” workshop. In addition to its functional properties as a material, Tango’s potential as a production area lies in its technical and developmental capabilities, responsiveness, and system for manufacturing these special textiles as products with guaranteed quality and quantity. In the textile industry, Tango is capable of producing a wide range of fabrics and technologies other than crape and is also capable of manufacturing high value-added products and special processing, including metalworking, resin processing, and woodworking. If we look at the Tango area in a new light, as an accumulation of such technologies, people, and experience, how does it look?

In the past, it was said that Tango was “the farthest place from Tokyo,” but as the various attempts at “DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021” have shown, by using online tools, the barriers of distance and time have been dissolved, and it has become easier for people in distant areas to start collaborations. At the same time, it has become easier to start collaborations between people in different regions.

At the same time, it is essential to visit and talk directly with the local people in order to gain access to their unique technologies and experience that can respond to “reckless requests”. Surrounded by rich nature and with thriving agriculture and fishery, Tango is a very attractive region in terms of “work vacation” values. After making connections online, you can actually visit the area and work on creating new values while physically experiencing the organic linkage of culture and industry that has been nurtured by the climate. As a base for such “stay-based manufacturing,” not only manufacturing companies, but also designers, artists, researchers, start-ups, and other players beyond the realm of occupation will be active. DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021″.

Future development of DESIGN WEEK TANGO

Information on OPEN HOUSE, where you can learn about the technologies and stories of the exhibiting companies, will continue to be available on the “DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021” official website. It can also be used as a database of information on manufacturing companies in the Tango area, so please visit the website.

>>> DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021 | OPEN HOUSE

For inquiries about the event or participating companies, or to discuss future development, please click here.

Organizers’ Voices

Reflections on DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021

I feel that there were many encounters and surprises for the participating businesses, such as the unintentional sounds of relief and gratitude at the end of the DESIGN WEEK TANGO, the discovery of historical documents that lead to the origins of the company, the reconfirmation of the direction the workshop is going, the high response to the open house scenes uploaded on the company’s SNS, and the sudden visits from overseas. For the visitors as well, by getting in touch with the background of the manufacturing of textiles, machinery and metal, furniture, agricultural products, etc., I believe they were reminded of the existence of the makers and had time to appreciate the things we consume without thinking about them.
By bringing together 21 businesses from different industries, we hoped to create an opportunity for new exchange by spinning the story of Tango’s deep-rooted manufacturing techniques and regional appeal, which would be difficult for one company to convey on its own. We are very happy to see the changes that have been brought about by each person involved in the workshop and open house, which delved into the origins of our company and the features of our manufacturing techniques.

The potential of the Tango area as seen through DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021

The words that come out from many of the people I meet in Tango are not only about our company, but also about the industries of Tango and the future of the children, and they talk about them from the perspective of the region, which I find very wonderful. Many times I came across situations where I felt pride in their own manufacturing and their love for Tango, where they live, seeped through.
In addition, Tango is an attractive region surrounded by rich nature and is one of the world’s leading “manufacturing regions” with representative industries such as Tango Chirimen. I have heard many people say that the opening of the site and the new exchanges with people in Japan and abroad have given them the desire to communicate the appeal of the Tango region, its manufacturing techniques, and the people who support them, and I feel that the possibilities will expand even further.

Future Prospects of DESIGN WEEK TANGO

Under the slogan of Connecting Tango’s craftsmanship to the next 100 years,” DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021, where people from different backgrounds gather and interact in Tango, can be considered a “regional version of open innovation. In fact, I feel that new exchanges are beginning to emerge, such as studio visits between businesses, exchanges with overseas companies, requests from educational institutions to speak on stage, and inquiries from companies who are happy to have discovered this time what they had been told was a technology that did not exist. In addition, technology has created an environment where distance is no longer a handicap. I have heard directly from people I had no contact with before, “Wow! This gives us confidence, which leads us to realize the appeal of our company and creates new challenges. We would like to convey this information to the people around us, recruit new attractive businesses, and invite more people from Japan and overseas to participate in the event so that they can further experience the charm, manufacturing, and people of Tango.

– Yasunobu Kawanabe / CADENA Co.,Ltd.

 

Reflections on DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021

The in-depth workshops, story design, preparation, and above all, the high level of commitment of the participating businesses made the open house content that was hard to believe for the first time. Until now, Tango’s efforts have been focused on “going out” from Tango to other regions for sales and other purposes, but I think it was significant that we were able to create an opportunity for diverse people from Japan and abroad to “come” to the manufacturing site in Tango. In addition, many of the participating businesses deepened their relationships with each other through this event, and I believe that we were able to create an opportunity that will lead to the future prosperity of Tango.

The potential of the Tango area as seen through DESIGN WEEK TANGO 2021

Tango is one of the world’s leading manufacturers in the fields of machinery and metal, textiles, and food, but because of the many subcontractors and OEMs, it has not been well known to the general public, including the local people. The culture and wisdom of the satoyama and satoumi areas, where the sea, forests and rivers are rich in nature and the landscape has been nurtured, are also wonderful, but until now, due to the distance, they have not been well known. This time, the visitors were all impressed by the splendour of Tango.
That is why I am convinced that by continuing to provide opportunities like this to visit the sites and directly experience the splendour of Tango, Tango will become known as one of the world’s leading regions that is worthy of its potential.

Future Prospects of DESIGN WEEK TANGO

As the current generation of Tango deepens exchanges, they will become more aware of the splendour and potential of Tango, and by further communicating this, we hope to create a relationship that will open up new possibilities. I would also like to create a situation where the next generation, seeing the current generation shining in this way, will naturally think that they too would like to inherit Tango’s manufacturing and the splendour of Tango. In order to achieve this, we will ask the local people of Tango to manage DESIGN WEEK TANGO, and we aim to transfer the management to the local community within 3-5 years.

– Isao Kitabayashi / Design Week Kyoto Executive Committee

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Author

  • Kosuke Kinoshita

    MTRL Director / FabCafe Kyoto Fab Director

    After graduating from Kyoto Prefectural University, Kosuke Kinoshita worked as a manager at the cafe “neutron” art gallery “neutron tokyo”. School utilization facility “IID Setagaya Monozukuri School” is responsible for creators’ workshops and exhibitions, and collaboration with companies, schools and local governments. He joined Loftwork Inc. 2015 in charge of “MTRL KYOTO” to open from the fall of 2015. Under the motto of “creating an open and realistic place”, he is actively working as an “intermediary” promoting exchanges and emergence beyond regions and specialized fields.

    After graduating from Kyoto Prefectural University, Kosuke Kinoshita worked as a manager at the cafe “neutron” art gallery “neutron tokyo”. School utilization facility “IID Setagaya Monozukuri School” is responsible for creators’ workshops and exhibitions, and collaboration with companies, schools and local governments. He joined Loftwork Inc. 2015 in charge of “MTRL KYOTO” to open from the fall of 2015. Under the motto of “creating an open and realistic place”, he is actively working as an “intermediary” promoting exchanges and emergence beyond regions and specialized fields.

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