Every time we head to Tokyo, it is a guarantee that we will encounter good times with delicious food and amazingly talented people. On this last trip we got to spend a bit more time than usual with Creative Director Shin Takizawa of Neighborhood. We got to dig into his brain and his archives of inspiration. We also got to look through the new Spring/Summer 2013 collection which looks siiick… classic, must-have, can’t-go-wrong pieces mixed with dope new styles along with another amazing incense chamber is headed our way!
Say hello to Shin…
Union: How many years has NBHD been around now?
Shin: 18 years
U: In those 18 years, what would you think is the biggest change you’ve seen with the brand? How has the brand developed and evolved?
S: Surprisingly, all the design concepts, ideas, and inspirations are really based on what it was 18 years ago… it remains the same and true to what we began with. What has changed is more on the production side. I think there are more techniques involved in the production of products and the quality is much better than it ever was.
U: Yes, we know what you mean because we’ve been following your work for over 12 years now and have watched that shift in how products and its quality have matured.
U: So can you tell us about the new Spring/Summer 2013 collection we are looking at today? What sort of inspirations helped you develop the line? Was there anything you decided to focus on based-on those inspirations?
S: We use to give a name and theme to each season’s collection, however we decided to stop doing that last year because it felt that by titling the collection we were simply chasing the trends that were happening at the time. What Neighborhood has always been inspired by is the classic culture of America. Whether that is in work wear or bike wear, as long as we have that as our foundation, it allows us to remain close to what we stand for and has helped us stay on track for the past 18 years. I think we stay true to the basics of what we stand for in this way. So when you ask what inspires us, it has a lot to do with how to bring out the “American-ness” in each and every collection.
U: If you can pick one word to describe what attracts you to American culture, what would that word be?
S: One word?
U: Or a phrase if one word isn’t enough…
U: What is it about American culture that captivates you?
S: Being Japanese, we’ve always had a lot of influence from American music, movies, and magazines so what we see and understand about America are portrayed through those avenues. What instantly comes to mind then is freedom. Freedom.
U: Yeah, that seems to be what American culture possesses.
S: Maybe it’s because Japan is so small compared to the U.S., which is such a big nation, we yearn for the kind of freedom that America has.
U: Right now, we are sitting in your workspace/showroom. What’s the most important element that you find necessary to have in your workspace? Creating an environment to work in is a very important part of the creative process. We are now sitting in your showroom and studio where you work and store the things that influence you and what you do. Everyone has a different need in these types of spaces and one’s workspace describes the person inhabiting it. What was the most important element that you kept in mind when building out this space? Can you describe your space for us?
S: For myself, I like to be surrounded by things like vintage clothing and vintage motorcycle parts, in a space that doesn’t necessarily need to be neatly organized in any way. I find comfort in these things. There isn’t necessarily a direct connection between my designs for Neighborhood and this environment though. These are just things I don’t like to be without and want to always have access to. I also don’t ever want to work in an office-like, corporate setting so it was important when building out this space to stay away from that.
When it comes to my staff’s workspace, it was a bit different in that I wanted to create an open-space that would allow air to flow throughout. I did not want to have walls and separations between each department because then the communication would not flow right. It was very important to maintain that element. I also felt that it was my responsibility to create an environment in which my staff would be happy to work in and have fun in so that they may be productive and enjoy coming to work everyday.
U: That’s really nice to hear that you also kept your staff in mind during the building process.
U: We have one last question for you… If you can choose to go on any motorcycle adventure anywhere in the world, where would you start and where would you end?
S: My fantasy would be to start from my house in Tokyo, and, I guess, get on a boat of some kind to get across the Pacific Ocean, and ride until I end up in Bonneville, Utah.
U: Then back the same route to Tokyo?
S: No, just one way (laughs)!
U: Never to return!
S: In real life though, I would like to one-day ride in the Cannonball Endurance Rally. It’s a month long, U.S. cross-country motorcycle race that starts on the east coast and ends on the west. All riders have to ride bikes that were made pre-1930. What attract me to these rides are the feeling of freedom it offers and a sense of free time.
*Special thanks to Shin Takizawa, Mitch Mitsui, Miko Sekimoto and Yu Oka for making this happen!