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Mitsutoshi Takesue " Things to be loved”

Two stops on the Nishitetsu line from Fukuoka Tenjin. Two stops on the Nishitetsu line from Fukuoka Tenjin, the long-established select store “organ” is located on the fourth floor of a modern building at the west exit of Ohashi Station. The store’s owner, Mr. Takesue, and his wife, Tomoko, have carefully selected furniture and miscellaneous goods from Sweden, Denmark, and other Scandinavian countries by walking around the world. When I walked up the stairs of the building and breathlessly opened the door, I was always greeted by Mr. Takesue with a gentle smile, a person I have always admired. For this interview, I asked Mr. Takesue to select five items from his collection that he has collected over the past 30 years. I wanted to get a closer look at Mr. Takesue’s sense of aesthetics through the beloved objects he chose.

(Interview and photo by Yoshihiro Taniguchi)

Mitsutoshi Takesue

 

The male owner of the select store “organ”.Born in 1949 in Hakata, Japan, he began his musical career in his teens, when he met The Beatles and The Band. He moved to Tokyo as a student and formed the band “Budo Batake” in the 1970s. They released two albums that are still called Japan’s greatest rock albums.In the 1980s, he moved back to Fukuoka and worked at Tower Records KBC.He released a record as a unit called “FLAT FACE”, aiming for “music for furniture”.In 1999, he opened “organ”, an interior design boutique in his home, and has been working with a Fukuoka-based designer to create “ENOUGH”, a project to promote “life without shoes”.He also publishes zines and other publications.

https://organ-online.com/

 

■You released two masterpieces with the legendary rock band “Budo Batake,” returned to Fukuoka and started working at “Tower Records KBC,” and formed the techno-pop unit “FLAT FACE” in 1986 and released a record. What led you to shift your interest from music to design and interior design?

BRUTUS, June 1, 1995, Special Feature: “Eames / Furniture of the Future

It’s a chair. It’s Eames, first in the 1995 Brutus “Eames Special”. The cover was a plastic chair, and I thought, “I’ve always liked this chair, but it’s an Eames. I’ve been familiar with this chair since I was a child, and I thought “modern” was the most appropriate word for it. The editor of that issue was Hitoshi Okamoto. Much later, I was introduced to him by my friend,Mikado Koyanagi. When I told him that I was a fan of Mr. Okamoto because I was a fan of Eames, he said, “I was a fan of the Budo Batake. There were five of us in the band, and Okamoto-san was there when there were only four people in the live house. I was quite skeptical at first, thinking that it wasn’t such a good story.

 

After that, I went on a buying spree. America, France, Holland, and Finland. Each country had its own designers, and each country had its own chairs. The moment I saw one, I thought, “I like it” or “I love it. When I touched it, sat on it, and thought that the design was good or the balance was good, I became interested in that designer. For example, a designer named Aalto made such a simple chair in the 1930’s, the era of decorative design. I’ve become interested in people who are doing designs that were created in the inevitability of that country and that time.

 

Inside “organ”. Furniture and household goods from around the world are beautifully laid out to welcome customers.

The first chair I bought was an Eames shell chair in Chicago, which I heard was selling for about $15, so I went to buy it. In France, I first bought a kitschy plastic lamp, not a chair, and then went to Belgium, Holland, and Copenhagen. Wonderful world of crafts. Sweden was wonderful for glass and ceramics.

 

Helsinki (Finland) was a dark city. The streets were too wide, the buildings were old-fashioned, and there was little sense of modernity. It’s a socialist country, I thought. When you actually visit a place like that, you can imagine that Aalto’s designs were born in a historical process. I get interested in one thing after another. Once that happens, I can’t stop.

 

It was hard to transport the chairs and furniture I bought to Japan. I don’t even know how to do it. I had to arrange for containers and go through a lot of procedures. It was expensive and cumbersome, and I tried various methods through trial and error. There was even a time when I carried a chair I bought on the crowded Paris Metro. That’s how I gained experience little by little.

 

Mr. Takesue chose “five beloved things”.  The first is an  plywood chair by Eames

Charles Eames / DCM Chair

 

Eames. When I first saw this chair at a modern furniture store in Nakameguro, I thought, “This is so cool! It was already aged and had a nice color, and I just knew I wanted it. I talked to the manager, and I think I probably discounted the price on the spot, but he said, “It’s a consignment item, so we can’t give you a discount,” and his service was very gentlemanly. I decided to buy it. This is one of the chairs that inspired me to start collecting chairs.

Charlotte Perriand’s chair, a lovely piece with a stark form.

Charlotte Perriand / Les Arcs ski resort stool

 

This is a chair by a French architect, Charlotte Perriand. When I started going to France, I knew information about Perriand, but almost no real chairs were available in Japan, and I had never seen any. At that time, all the Perian pieces were already being sold by galleries and the prices were high. I tried to find a cheap place to buy them, so I went to flea markets to get them.

 

Perriand’s career started when he joined Le Corbusier’s office and started designing furniture for the architecture that Le Corbusier created. This chair is a stool that was actually used at a ski resort called Les Arcs. It was originally made so that people could use it without hesitation at the ski resort, and was not intended for sale. In that sense, they are rare. Later, when the facilities were sold or leased, they were released as recycled objects, but in recent years they have been evaluated and their value has increased, and now they are almost impossible to find.

 

I think this chair is the work that leads to her words “art of living”. It’s the ultimate work of art that can be both a stool and a table in a small room. Perian says, “Isn’t this good enough? That’s how graceful it is. It has a little slit to give it a sense of design and her own service. It’s a very lovely design.

Lucie Rie’s Salt & Pepper

By the time I fell in love with Lucie Rie, her pottery could only be purchased at galleries. She also made tableware as one of her early products, and I decided to start with her household items.

One day, I received this piece that I had purchased overseas, and when I unpacked it, I heard a rustling sound and salt came out. I thought, “This has been used before. haha. This looks like Jomon earthenware, doesn’t it? The dark brown folk art motif. I like this one of Lucie Rie’s works because it has a strong free form that is both primitive and modernist. I don’t use it, though.

Unique object by Lisa Larson

Lisa Larson / Object

 

Isn’t the pose strange? It’s not like zazen.  Feet are in the wrong position for relaxation, and hands are stretched out on the floor. When you think of Lisa Larson, you probably think of lions and cute pottery, but she is also very mischievous and has a mean sense of humor that comes from being a woman. This object itself looks as if it is troubled. It makes me imagine all kinds of things.

 

Around 1998, when I first fell in love with Lisa Larson, I got to know Mr. Hattori of graf and a couple who ran a select store called dieci in Osaka, and I felt a great sympathy for them. I think this was the time when I wanted to see how American and European designs could be adapted to Japanese lifestyles. Play Mountain in Tokyo also started around the same time. Since then, Scandinavian design has boomed, and now many people have started to incorporate some of its products into their daily lives. The “lifestyle awareness” that sprouted at the end of the 20th century is still ongoing.

Aalto’s Savoy Vase.Beautiful shimmering

Alvar Aalto / Savoy Vase

 

My store carries a lot of Scandinavian stuff. I’m most attracted to Finland. It’s not because of the movie “Kamome Shokudo”, though. lol

 

This vase, designed by Alvar Aalto, is one of the first ones. Unlike today’s vases, this one is made by pouring glass into a wooden mold, which gives it a unique, bumpy, shimmering appearance. These are almost impossible to find nowadays. It was made for a restaurant that he designed at the time, and it is called “Savoy Vase” after the restaurant, but It seems that his first sketches were called “Sami Skirts”, which means he had an eye for ethnic minorities. I think it was very pioneering of Aalto to be in Finland, to have a European sensibility, and to design with the specificities of his own region in mind.

 

The thickness of the glass and the handmade feel of it all. Wooden molds cannot be used over and over again. When you pour hot glass into it, it burns, so the mold becomes lax. This makes the outside of the glass shimmer. It’s filled with unexpected beauty. The transparency of the glass is also completely different from what we have now. This is already an object. It wouldn’t be cool to put something in it. It’s a glass sculpture. I love this “squishy” look.

 

Alvar Aalto was an architect, and it’s the Paimio Sanatorium where he was recognized internationally as an architect.

You can still visit there. It’s a hospital, but it’s very bright. The stairs are painted yellow because it is painful for the patients to climb them, and chairs are designed for relaxation on the balcony. Everything is well thought out, bright and light. He is a powerful person who can lighten the dark.

 

Paimio Sanatorium website

 

Magazine rack by Mathieu Mategot. Unique form.

Mr. Takesue holds a magazine rack by Mathieu Mategot.

Mathieu Mategot / Magazine Rack

 

Mathieu Mategot was a French designer active in the 1950s. His works are made of perforated metal, and many of them are artistic, but they have to be usable. This magazine rack can be used, but it’s small and doesn’t hold that many magazines. lol.

 

But when I display it as an object, people ask, “What is this? “It’s got holes in it, it’s bent, it’s awesome!” It smells like art, doesn’t it? This is one of the “JAVA” series, and it’s hard to find, but I finally found it. It’s not post-modern at all, it’s modern all by itself. It’s very French, I can’t help it. lol. There is a certain arrogance to it, isn’t there?

 

■All of the items that Mr. Takesue chose are very charming, aren’t they? They are friendly. I feel like they are all smiling.

ENOUGH” is a space that promotes “life without shoes. A living room with many chairs.

Written by Kojin Karatani, ” Koujin  Karatani Statement Collection: Dialogue Edition

Written by Kojin Karatani, ” Koujin  Karatani Statement Collection: Dialogue Edition

 

The last one is a book by Koujin Karatani. It is a compilation of conversations with various people. I’ve been in love with Mr. Karatani for a long time. I’m still reading his books. This book is different from his other works in that it is a dialogue with various people, so it covers a wide variety of topics and is easier to read than his own writings.Some of my favorites, such as Komimasa Tanaka and Ryuichi Sakamoto, also appear in the book, and even if you don’t know someone like Yoko Tawada, you can get interested in her by reading her dialogues.
I’ve been hanging out with Mr. Karatani for about 30 years now. When I used to get drunk, I used to talk about Karatani all the time. I was quite disliked.

 

Mr. Karatani, he calls himself a critic, but his books are basically difficult. lol. Especially the early ones. I was always frustrated, but sometimes I thought, “Oh! I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of him before, but he says such exciting things. The only way to find out is to read them, but reading them will cheer you up.

 

■Which of Mr. Karatani’s books should I read?

 

Let’s not read the early ones. It’s too difficult to understand. I recommend the ones from the 2000s. Especially “The Structure of World History” is full of suggestions for the future.

 

To borrow Mr. Karatani’s words, what lies beyond the current capitalist world? From now on, we will not be exchanging goods for money, but sharing with each other. If we give, we must give back, and that is the kind of world we will have to live in. I dare say it’s socialism. Scandinavia is like that. Taxes are high, but they provide medical care, education, and a guarantee until death. That is what the people want and they get it. Each and every citizen has his or her own demands for the government.

 

 

It is perhaps inevitable that I came across Karatani’s book when I first became interested in design.  Under the influence of Mr. Karatani, I began to want to react to everything that surrounds me, including philosophy and religion. By doing so, I am trying to test what I do not know about myself. For example, I look at the chair in front of me and say, “What do you think of this?

 

 

A chair is an art that you can sit on. You don’t have to sit on it, you can sit on it. All chairs are different and interesting to sit on. Aalto’s chair has no sitting comfort. But I think that is what Aalto’s chair is. It is truly a chair born of socialism. It’s the opposite of luxury, as long as everyone can use it cheaply and it’s a somewhat comfortable chair.

 

The same goes for Marimekko’s striped shirts. I wondered how many shirts I would have in different colors, but they are also a product of socialism. They look like uniforms, but you can choose the color. The stripes are also hand-painted and a little shaky, so it’s a socialist thing without being rigid.

 

In fact, there is nothing as inconvenient as freedom, and I think that creating a little freedom within inconvenient things is what design is all about. I can’t do that, but I can imagine it from what is designed.” That’s how I started the “Life in Shoes” project.

 

To put it simply, the things I chose to make were things that I thought, “I can’t sell”. In other words, “Even if I die, you can’t sell this”. In short, I’m not ready to become a socialist yet. haha.

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