Calling himself a clothing designer rather than a fashion designer, Miyake has been exploring ways by which to make clothing that will allow its wearer greater individuality, comfort and freedom. Driven by a relentless curiosity, Miyake has continually sought to redefine the relationship between clothing and the body, making clothing with techniques that incorporate both tradition as well as the latest technology.
Miyake says, “Curiosity and happiness are at the core of my work. Design is never static but, it is only possible after constant exchanges of ideas, aesthetics, and sensibilities.” He continues, “Clothes are of no interest except insofar as they provoke sentiments and reactions in those who wear them. I create, not to express my ego or my personality, but rather to try and bring answers to those who are asking themselves questions about our era and how we should live in it.”
Born in Hiroshima, Japan in 1938. In 1970, after studying in Paris and New York, Miyake returned to Tokyo where he established the Miyake Design Studio. He presented his first eponymous collection in New York in 1973; he has presented all subsequent collections in Paris.
At the heart of Miyake’s clothes making philosophy is the idea of creating a garment from “one piece of cloth”; and the exploration of the space between the human body and the cloth that covers it. His approach to design has always been to strike a consistent balance between tradition and innovation: handcrafts and new technology. PLEATS PLEASE, which was born in 1993, is a radical but eminently practical form of contemporary clothing: it combines an age-old idea of wrapping a three dimensional figure with a two dimensional material using pleats, with new technology, functionality and beauty.
In 1998, Miyake returned to his original love of research and exploration, embarking upon a new project with associate Dai Fujiwara, called A-POC (A Piece of Cloth). Through exploration of the possibilities between creativity and digital technology Miyake is challenging the traditional ways by which we make things. He believes that the answer to the future of making clothes lies in A-POC: a creative journey that begins with a single piece of thread, that creates fabric, texture and a fully finished garment, or its components in a single process, by its completion. Regardless of the year, Miyake’s clothing is always unique and is not completed until the wearer places it upon their body.
In February of 2004, Miyake established The Miyake Issey Foundation whose objectives are not only to preserve the existing archive but to also support and develop young artists and their work. Since 2007, the Foundation has also operated 2121 DESIGN SIGHT thus fulfilling Miyake’s dream of bringing a space devoted to the cultivation of all mediums of design, to Japan.
Miyake has received numerous awards, including:
1993 Chevalier de L'Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur, from the French Government
1998 Bunka Kourousha, the Person of the Cultural Merits, from the Japanese Government
2004 The 11th Wexner Prize from the Wexner Center, Ohio State University
2005 The Praemium Imperiale Sculpture Prize from the Japan Art Association
2006 The 22nd Kyoto Prize, in the Arts and Philosophy category.