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GINZA SIX EDITORS

Fashion, jewelry & watch, lifestyle, beauty, foods…
Unique editors who are familiar with each genre GINZA SIX aimlessly
We spell way of enjoying that we found on foot.

Finding Lost Art!

Keita Takada

GINZA SIX EDITORS Vol.99

I don’t like to shop. Wandering about aimlessly, peering in windows, walking around hoping for a chance encounter—I don’t like it at all. I investigate what I want beforehand, then I make that my purpose and charge in. I don’t wander, I move, chop-chop. That’s how I shop.

Even though I’m clear on this, the circumstances change when shopping becomes a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. My material desires have receded a bit as I’ve gotten older, but I still occasionally feel the desire to be that sort of gentleman or to live in this sort of way. Which is when shopping stops being shopping and becomes more like a mission.

Spending so much time at home due to Covid-19, I’ve recently found myself wanting to spruce up my home life. So, this time, I decided to make Finding Lost Art my theme for a visit to GINZA SIX. I may not actually be putting my life on the line like Indiana Jones or Lara Croft, but I do hope to discover art hidden within everyday life. That’s my mission today.

The first of my three missions at GINZA SIX addresses the lost art of letter writing.

Working as an editor generates lots of opportunities to write letters, including letters of appreciation and, sometimes, letters of apology. I typically only write letters when I absolutely need to, but I do sometimes receive letters and postcards with messages like “Thank you for featuring such-and-such actor,” or “I’m a fan of the singer such-and-such, it’d be great if you could do a write-up on her…” Things like that. People put their hearts into their words, and even though I know the letters aren’t directed at me personally, I’m moved all the same. Letters have that strange power.

I read recently that more than 20% of us failed to write a single letter in the past year. So, to do my part to rehabilitate this lost art, I started by looking for top-of-the-line stationery.

I visited the UK brand Smythson in Vulcanize London, a multi-brand specialty store on the fourth floor. It’s a venerable British company honored with three Royal Warrants—a Royal Warrant being something like the seal of approval of the British royal family. Store manager Naoto Kurebayashi guided me through the store.

“Smythson is known for Nile Blue, the color used on its stationery and envelopes,” Kurebayashi tells me. “When founder Frank Smythson visited Egypt, he was mesmerized by the Nile River, which inspired the color idea. Another popular color named Bond Street Blue, a shade of pale blue, is named after the location of the company’s first store.”

The stationery and envelopes in these two brand colors really grab your attention—the blues are regal and beautiful. The envelopes (3,000 yen for a set of 25; *all prices listed before tax) are double envelopes. Each piece of stationery (4,000 yen for a set of 50) bears a watermark. All have been carefully finished by hand. The minimal design, all excess trimmed away, radiates a British restraint and grace. With such refined stationery, I’ll no doubt be better prepared to approach letter writing as a gentlemanly pursuit.

In the same section, I also came across an extensive selection of card sets. This set (5,000 yen) features a buzzing bee motif imprinted with black and gold, a sophisticated whimsy I found charming.

Incidentally, my most beloved Smythson is a pocket-size featherweight diary with ultra-thin paper that fits right in the palm of your hand. It comes in handy when I’m out in the field without a desk or doing research away from home. (When I run my pen over my extremely well-worn black diary, I’ve been told, I look like a detective interviewing a witness.)

My second mission is to begin living closer to art. I want to enrich the time I spend at home—we have so few opportunities to get out compared to before. And art is essential to this pursuit!

So I headed to a certain area inside Ginza Tsutaya Books on the sixth floor. “This is the Art Edition corner of Taschen, a German publisher,” Fumiaki Bamba, photography concierge, explains. “There’s a large selection of large-format books and books that function as interior design and art, particularly the Art Edition titles, which come bundled with a single work of art. You can also purchase any of the artworks on display.” A brief glance identifies works by artists like Ai Weiwei, David Hockney, and David Bailey. I’d been under the impression you could only get art like this through auction houses like Sotheby’s or Christie’s, so this is quite the find and a legitimate surprise.

When I think of Taschen, I think of Helmut Newton’s sensational SUMO, released ten years ago. Taschen enjoys a reputation as a boutique publisher of beautiful coffee table books, but this was a giant 70 × 50-centimeter sumo-sized photo collection weighing 30 kilograms and measuring eight centimeters thick. Each copy was personally signed by Newton and numbered and included a bespoke stand designed by design heavyweight Philippe Starck. With SUMO, Taschen rather dramatically upended conventional wisdom in both art and publishing.

David Hockney’s My Window (280,000 yen), the latest in the SUMO series, is also here on display. Views from the window of the artist’s Yorkshire home are drawn using an iPhone or iPad—an ambitious approach. Each of the 1,000 copies of this limited edition is signed. I have to tip my hat to David Hockney, who remains vigorous even at 82.

The works by photographer David Bailey, also 82, are no less dynamic. Right before me here is Mick Jagger in a fur coat, an iconic portrait taken for Bailey’s Box of Pin-Ups portfolio in 1964. When I interviewed the artist for a GQ piece around six years ago, Bailey had the following to say about this photo:

“Mick chose this as his favorite photograph of him. Around twenty years ago, the magazine American Photo ran a feature that asked superstar singers about their favorite photos. Mine was the one Mick chose. It was the cover. What did I think? I didn’t think anything. What does Mick know about photography!”

In London’s Swinging Sixties, photographers were even cooler and more rock-and-roll than musicians. This little exchange tells us something about the relationship between the two luminaries, who became friends over time.

Here I also see Bailey’s portraits of Andy Warhol, Jean Shrimpton, and other celebrities, each with a price tag, all numbered and signed by the artist. How rare! I think I’ll go home and have a stare-down with my wallet as I evaluate the temptation.

My last mission is to experience art every day, something I believe to be possible even if I don’t end up with a Hockney print on my wall.

I visit diptyque on the first belowground floor, a Parisian fragrance maison renowned for its fragrance candles. I’m looking for a certain piece of—fragrance art?—created in collaboration with diptyque by Jean-Michel Othoniel, a contemporary French artist.

Othoniel is known for his sculptures of blown-glass spheres linked into necklace-like shapes. Some of you may have seen his heart-shaped sculpture in the Mohri Garden at Roppongi Hills.

Another perennial Othoniel theme is roses. In particular, his La Rose du Louvre, which was created in 2019, commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Pyramid at the Louvre Museum. Here it’s been transposed into a fragrance and a candle design.

Store manager Asami Tsuchihashi sprays a sample of the fragrance (21,300 yen) developed by Othoniel with a perfumer, leaving a flowery rose fragrance with spicy notes wafting about me. It’s dramatic and stimulating, with first notes of black pepper, along with ambrette seed, akigalawood, and more. The candle (8,900 yen) is a gentler, softer variation on this motif.

In the same way smokers experience a rush of anticipatory adrenaline from the moment they take out their lighter, the prelude to an experience can itself be cause for excitement. In my case, I feel the same when I light a candle or incense stick. Especially when I’m spending days at home, with so little daily variation, I light a candle, as if to reset my outlook on life.

Something else I happened to notice is these beautiful glass dispenser bottles, filled with hand wash and hand lotion, some of which I tried. Two types of the orange-colored hand wash (6,900 yen each) are offered here. The one with granules has an exfoliating element of crushed olive stones, which remove dirt and keratin from your hands. It feels great on the skin, a bit like a massage. The creamy white hand lotion (7,100 yen) moisturizes effectively, free of stickiness. We’re all washing and disinfecting our hands so often, they tend to dry out and get rough. It brightens our spirits to encounter beauty in our daily household items.

I’ve now wrapped up my three GINZA SIX missions. Find Lost Art! Well, maybe I didn’t quite accomplish that, but I did come across hints for pursuing the art of gentlemanliness and incorporating art into interior design and daily life. Even for someone like me, who would prefer not to wander about aimlessly, GINZA SIX is an ideal setting for such chance encounters. Mission accomplished!

Text: Keita Takada Photos: Hiroyuki Takenouchi  Edit: Yuka Okada(81)

editors_takada

Keita Takada

Born in Fukuoka; managing editor at GQ JAPAN, overseeing entertainment, fashion, lifestyle, features, and more. Gained experience in merchandising, marketing, and PR at Helmut Lang, Coach, and other luxury brands after a stint at Hakuhodo I-Studio. Spent two years in the UK, joining Condé Nast in 2010.

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2020.07.27 improves