Building Block

Building Block

Kazumi Takigawa

Photography by Kenta Nakano
Translated by Aya Yamasaki

Kazumi Takigawa is a friend, collaborator, and Kyoto based artist who is known for reproducing archetypal paper bags using waxed canvas under the moniker Funagata. Each bag that Kazumi crafts is uniquely hand dyed with coffee / tea / iron / aluminum / plant extracts to mimic the color variation of craft paper, sewn individually, and then finished with a combination of 2 waxes. Kazumi has the eye of a sculptor and shapes her work around the idea that functional design should stand the test of time. Similar to our vegetable tanned leather which evolves with everyday use, Kazumi’s pieces are created with longevity + durability in mind and also soften in time, developing distinct creases and a patina over the waxed surface. Below, we catch up with Kazumi on her new move to Kyoto, learn a bit about her daily influences, and what kind of pasta she's been making lately :)

Can you tell us a little about your background and how you first started making Funagata bags?

Ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed creating things silently, and I majored in sculpture at university. The Funagata Bag was born out of my search for sculpture materials. One day I had the opportunity to do some bronze casting and needed to make a prototype in wax and the wax accidentally got spilled and soaked into my work clothes, which was a pair of jeans. When I saw the waxed denim, I thought I wanted to make something out of this material.

At the time, I had no idea that it would turn into a business that would last more than 10 years, and I never imagined that I would become friends with you and be interviewed by you. I am very lucky. 

私は子どもの頃から黙々と何かを作るのが好きで、大学では彫刻を専攻していました。特に彫刻作品を作るための素材を探すことが好きで、常に何か面白い素材はないか探していました。Funagata Bagもその素材探しの中で生まれました。ある時ブロンズ鋳造をする機会があり原型をワックスで作る必要があったのですが、そのワックスが作業着のジーンズに染みたのをみてこの素材を活かして何か作りたいと思いFunagata Bagを作りはじめました。しかし当時それが10年以上も続く仕事になるとは思ってもいませんでしたし、こうやってあなたたちと友人になりインタビューを受けるなんて想像もつきませんでしたね。とても幸運なことです。※Funagata は舟型のアルファベット表記です。

We know that the Funagata bags occupy only one side of your talents and interests—can you tell us about other influences in your life right now?


Lately I'm interested in architecture and interior design. I moved this spring and am now trying to make my new home a cozy space. Because of this, I have been thinking more and more about the theme of home in the things I make.


We love how your pieces get better with use and with age—similar to our Vegetable tanned leather. Are there other objects in your life that are equally functional and beautiful that you want to share a bit about?


Yes, it’s a grid-shaped trivet I found at an antique shop. That's right! I'm obsessed with grids! It's a simple design of six aluminum rods in a lattice pattern, with the edges held together by 20 screws, but I think it's a beautiful tool, movable to form a square, a diamond, or a bar.


You just moved to Kyoto from Tokyo, how exciting! What drew you to Kyoto?


Kyoto is famous for its old temples and shrines, but the reason I was particularly drawn to this city is because of the wonderful modern buildings around 100 years old that remain in Kyoto. I decided to move here because Tokyo has chosen not to keep its old buildings due to the Olympics and other reasons. The city is also small and has a lot of nature, so it's a fun city for cycling and walking.


We know you love to cook, is there a favorite recipe that you keep going back to?

It was fun cooking together at your house before! Lately, I've been watching a youtube show about Italian grandmothers making pasta, which has been therapeutic for me. It's a great show with archived recipes from grandmothers all over Italy. I don't follow the recipe exactly every time, so I don't have anything to share here, but pasta with meatballs is my favorite because it is so easy. It's a nice change of pace since most of the cooking is done in an hour!

以前あなたたちの家で一緒に料理をして楽しかったですね!最近はイタリアのおばあちゃんたちがパスタを作る youtube の番組を見るのが癒しで、それを見様見真似で作っています。イタリア各地のおばあちゃんのレシピをアーカイブした素晴らしい番組なんです。私は毎回レシピ通りに作っていないのでここで披露できるものはありませんが、ミートボールのパスタが簡単でお気に入りです。料理は1時間もあれば大抵完成するので良い気分転換になりますね!

Tell us about a collection you keep.


I have been collecting scissors since I was a child. I used to buy them with my allowance, but maybe I was a bit of an odd child. Now I use some of them for work, but if I find something I like, such as scissors for crafts, I buy them. 


What are you listening to or reading?

People on their bikes often pass by the street in front of my apartment, and they are in a good mood, singing along! Listening to them has become a recent pleasure. Sorry for not recommending an actual song! As for books, I've been into a collection of Anni Albers' works. Also books by my favorite writer since I was a student, Nakako Hayashi, whenever she has a new book, and I still reread her old ones.

私の住んでるアパートの前の通りを自転車がよく通るのですが、彼らはしばしばご機嫌に歌いながら通り過ぎるのです!それを聞くのが最近の楽しみになっています。おすすめの曲じゃなくてごめんね!本はAnni Albersの作品集、あと学生時代から好きな林央子さんの本は新しい物が出たら読みますし、今でも昔のものも読み返します。

How do you feel, at your age, right now?

I feel like my lifestyle and thoughts haven't changed much since I was in my 20s, but I'm convinced that I've become interested in old buildings and things because I'm getting older.


What about your life now, would be most unexpected to your younger self?

Now that I’m living in Kyoto after leaving my hometown, Tokyo, I don't think even a year ago I would have expected this. I decided on a whim! I think it's great to be an adult because I get to live wherever I like.


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