The collaboration between Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama and YAMAGATA DANTSU has been ongoing for 10 years, and it all started with his initial passion for promoting Yamagata's crafts. On his first visit to the Dantsu factory, he experienced the craftsmen expertly weaving by hand. It was a match that was meant to be.
Through our collaboration with Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama, we strive to create carpets that push the boundaries of excellence while keeping with our original mission of “A Warm Welcome, for Every Foot”.
Ken Kiyoyuki OkuyamaIndustrial Designer / Representative of Ken Okuyama Design
Born in Yamagata in 1959.
He designed the Enzo Ferrari and Maserati Quattroporte, Ducati motorcycles, trains, ships, buildings, robots, theme parks, and countless other designs.
International Industrial Designer Ken Kiyoyuki Okuyama's Carpet Designs.
An interview about the story behind the designs, introduction to YAMAGATA DANTSU, and future plans.
I was first introduced to YAMAGATA DANTSU by the late brother of the managing director Hiroaki Watanabe. It was that connection that first led me to visit the factory. I was amazed by how much care and effort went into the weaving. Seeing the work almost moved me to tears and it inspired me. I thought to myself that I cannot just make a design on the computer, but I would have to utilize the strengths of YAMAGATA DANTSU: their rich, beautiful, vibrant colors. I cut origami paper to look like leaves in the fall and started to arrange them in different patterns. Employing traditional Japanese fall colors, I was able to create the strikingly brilliant “Momiji”. For my second design, I wanted to do a gradation. I looked at countless photographs of waves and drew various gradations of the ocean. I also wanted as many people as possible to enjoy one of the YAMAGATA DANTSU's carpets, so I went to the factory to discuss about different price points. And so, even better than all of my expectations, the incredible “Umi” was realized. These 10 years my vision has always been the same; to create something that I, myself, would like to own.
Learning from the experiences of developing “Momiji” and enlarging the market realm for “Umi”, I again tried to reach a new horizon for YAMAGATA DANTSU and do what has not been done before once more. With “Momiji” and “Umi”, the product appeal of YAMAGATA DANTSU's gradation designs were high. Therefore with my next design, I wanted to explore texture with the yarn and create an authentic natural aesthetic. A carpet to go with the modern open interior design tastes. Since the design itself is simple, there had to be emphasis on the materials themselves. The simple elegance of the single color coupled with the enticing yarn are the driving force of “Hamon” and “Tanda”.
I am originally from Yamagata and learned graphic design. Then I went abroad and found industrial design. Abroad, I saw many expert craftsman firsthand making extraordinary things. Gathering from my experiences and what I learned abroad, I wanted to apply them to Japan and invigorate Yamagata crafts to show the coolness of Yamagata. Yamagata crafts have made their mark on the world scene. And above all, those living in Yamagata live and enjoy a full cultural life. To me, that's honestly the coolest thing. That's why I want everyone to come and visit Yamagata. Experience the YAMAGATA DANTSU factory, realize their carpets, and take in all the new opinions. That should be the incentive for Yamagata's product development.