We were so excited to participate in the annual Open Studio Design Crawl during San Francisco Design Week this year. We had almost 500 people attend! It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with some of our neighbors and to show off our new office. Maki Aizawa, a Japanese-born multimedia artist based in California, displayed striking arrangements during the event. Ikebana celebrates and promotes appreciation of the aliveness of nature; literally translated, ikebana means “flowers kept alive.” Students study for years to master the art. We talked with Maki to get her perspective on ikebana and ask her about some of her other projects.
Can you tell us about your personal experience with ikebana? When did you first become interested in the art form?
Ikebana has been a part of my life since I was 10. My teacher taught the weekly classes at my house where was also a kimono making school. Practicing and forming the art with branches, leaves and flowers appealed to me.
What is the philosophy behind the notion of “flowers kept alive”? How does the process of ikebana celebrate the aliveness of nature?
One of the things my teacher told me was to take care of the arrangement (rearranging every few days.) By changing the water and recutting all make them live longer. In this way, the arrangement was a part of my life every day. I pay attention to little details of the arrangement each day.
We work with interior designers. Are there some lessons from ikebana that could be useful when designing a room?
I think that the concept of tokonoma is interesting. Tokonoma is a specific space only for artistic appreciation or displaying art. This relates a lot with chanoyu, the way of tea. We focus on the season and that becomes the center of the conversations.
Your Senninbari Project teaches women who lost everything in the 2011 tsunami and earthquake to sew, in an effort to provide them with another source of income and to create connections. Can you tell us more about why you began the project? Why did you choose sewing as the means to create connections as opposed to another art form?
I wanted to do something for my hometown when the disaster happened. Working with their hands was very therapeutic.
What is next for you? Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
Through my cultural exchange organization, Sonoma Cultural Exchange, I am arranging classes such as kumihimo (Japanese braiding), kintsugi (golden joinery to repair pottery) and book-arts. In addition, I am producing the new performance with the Japanese bunraku puppeteers and performers from the Paiute Tribe of Big Pine, CA.
Find out more about Maki and her work here!