Interview with Keiko Nishiyama – Intriguing Fashion Designer

Please introduce yourself and your background.

I studied for a BA in Fashion and performance in Tokyo and worked as an assistant designer for a few years. At that point I then decided to come over to the UK to improve more my skills and creativity, so I studied at the London College of Fashion 2013 and graduated with an MA. After this graduation, I had a chance to collaborate with a UK shoes company, fit flop, as a textile designer and half year later I also had the opportunity to present my catwalk show with Fashion scout 2014.


Please tell us about your work.

Since I presented my collection for my graduate collection, I have been intrigued with the Wunderkammer, otherwise known as the cabinet of curiosity in English. The cultural background of the cabinet of curiousity is very rich and steeped in history, the origin of the museum can be found in the 18th century when plants and creatures from all over the world which had never been known before were collected and imported.

I represent this collective culture with my hand printed work which recreates these mysteries with my imagination, and every season I use a different subject.Therefore, people can follow and enjoy the story of what is happening behind my work, every season and in every different way .


For someone interested in studying design in the UK, what advice would you give them?

I think that Japanese people have a very diffrent sense and aesthetic compared to European and british culture. However, this is something that we should be confident and proud of. I think though, that because of language and personality, we often come across obstacles and walls. As such I really think it is essential to talk to different people and to present yourself and your work.

Where do your ideas for your work come from? From where do you find inspiration?

I am very keen to discover and represent collective culture, such as the Wunderkammer which I mentioned before. This culture and art have a feeling of mysterious and darkness .

I am also very curious about the gap between beauty and darkness, they create an awkward feeling which always grabs my attention, so I always keep an eye out for different or unusual things which are related to art and culture. When I discover an idea or see something, I start to research it’s background or meaning until I understand it through and through.


Can you tell us about the different stages of making a piece? For example, design, materials, production, etc? How long does it take to complete each stage?

Once I have found the concept or idea, I research everything about it, including it’s meaning and history until I feel I have a thorough understanding. During this step I explore until I reach interesting ideas and images. Then I often use collage to find my expression, such as how I can represent this concept and I start to draw images with all my research and collage. This is my basic style to output my expression in my work.



To what extent do you draw upon your Japanese heritage for your work?

My concept came from Europe and British culture, however, I am always keen to discover as well as adore the aesthetic, not only beauty but also the bizarre. I think this aesthetic sense came from my Japanese culture and art . For example, I feel that Japanese traditional paints describe delicate beauty, but also wierdness and darkness with expression and colours.

What do Japanese crafts, or the design of Japanese crafts, mean to you?

For me Japanese craftmanship is always completed perfectly with delicate works. I feel assured that crafts are born from our individual culture, sense and personality. It is not easy to do the same with other countries, I think we should be proud and introduce our heritage and sense of skills.


What are your future plans? Do you have any exhibitions planned?

Now I have started to design and develop a new collection again. In terms of my print design, I am opening my mind to express that this is not only fashion and expand to other potential areas.

Finally any last words for anyone interested in Japanese crafts and design?

Please look and touch it closely! You will understand better what Japanese crafts and design mean and need!