It is definitely important to think about the environment. However, it is difficult to keep being aware of something in our everyday lives. You cannot act anything without being aware of. There are many cases that you forget things, even if you are really aware of it when you read the articles with such themes online or magazines. It is meaningless if you are not always conscious about the environment as it is a real-time issue. Art and design can communicate with such issues, and I will introduce one example of those.
Do you know what “organic cotton” is? It is raw cotton that is produced without agricultural chemicals and chemical fertilizer on farms that have been cultivated for three years without agricultural chemicals and chemical fertilizer. Organic cotton products are to be made by using least chemicals in the process of all manufacturing sections; spinning, weaving or knitting, dyeing/printing and finishing, and cutting/sewing.
“JOCA (Japan Organic Cotton Association)” is a non-profit organization to think about the earth and protecting the environment by increasing of organic cotton. They started “Artist T-shirts Project” in 1995 as one of their activities. In this project, they have asked 10 artists a year to design T-shirts as volunteers. This year is the 12th, and total 72 designs became official works. They have also had the T-shirts exhibitions of this project throughout Japan, and I visited one of those held in Sapporo in April. The venue was 4pra hall on the 7th floor of 4pla building, one of the popular shopping malls of the city.
The Sapporo exhibition became very big with total 100 artists, including the 70 official T-shirts, and additional 30 T-shirts designed by a local creators group “Sapporo ADC (Sapporo Art Directors Club). In addition to the wall, the venue had special spaces to exhibit the actual T-shirts. The artists were from various fields, including graphic designers, illustrators, product designers, actors, contemporary artists, florists and so on. The design also reflected the variety of artists, which was enjoyable to see. You can surely find your favorites.
The material of the exhibited T-shirts, Organic Cotton was not processed with chemicals at all, showing the natural texture. It was my first experience to carefully see it. The color was light beige and not all white as we expect in normal T-shirts. I felt really comfortable with the Organic Cotton’s natural color and texture, which might mean we have such DNA to feel good to the nature.
Those T-shirts were also available to purchase. Although the Sapporo exhibition was over, you can still buy it from JOCA‘s website. All the T-shirts are sized M for men (Width50 x Height70 x Shoulder47 x Arm19). By having such items, you can be aware of thinking about the environment. Of course, it would be nice to go around with your favorite designed T-shirts.
Artists: Kan Akita (graphic designer), Yoko Akino (actor), Kouhei Arikawa (crayon pastel painter), Syogo Kariyazaki (florist), Yoichi Nagasawa (designer), Dai Fujiwara (creative designer for Issey Miyake), Naoto Fukasawa (product designer), Katsuhiko Hibino (artist), and more.
100 Artists Organic Cotton T-shirts Design Exhibition
Date: April 26th – May 6th, 2008
Place: 4pla Hall
Address: W4 S1 Chuo-ku, Sapporo (7F of 4pla)
Text and photos: Shinichi Ishikawa (Numero Deux)
Translation: Yurie Hatano