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Pulling Apart the Threads visited a host of graduation shows and picked some talents of tomorrow to share with you. First up is graphic-design graduate from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy: Mariko Okazaki. 

By Cassandra Pizzey / 25-07-2013

A series of printed fabrics is what we encountered courtesy of Mariko Okazaki, a Japanese-born architecture graduate whose graphic design looks at the relationship between weaving, printing and music. 

Can you tell us a little about your background and how you ended up at the Rietveld Academy?

Before coming here I studied architecture in Japan. What I was interested in the most among whole process of designing architecture is making concept and visualize it as schema or diagram, rather than solving realistic demands or purely formal study. I got to know Dutch design through a colleague and thought Rietveld would be the right place to develop my interest in 2-D imagery, since it is characterized by a conceptual approach. “


Your graduation work is based on a classic pattern weaving book, could you tell us about this project?

I decided to use  the classical pattern book as a source book because the collection of historical patterns from all over the world and all different ages looks very diverse, but at the same time they are just different variations based on same principle. Simple but Diverse. The weaving technique itself is universal and has existed since ancient times. Although it is very much analogue, it’s very close to the digital system. 

The work consists of four parts. There is a series of nine silkscreen prints where the weft and warp of weaving have been translated into layers of ink. A black-and-white poster combines analogue and digital (Jacquard loom as weft and Analytical Engine as warp). There is a video that produces the sound of the pattern by using a combination of four different tones, the thicker the thread, the longer the tone. And there are two booklets, one which shows the patterns ‘woven’ by an inkjet printer, the other showing the musical score they respond to.” 


How do you set to work after a concept is thought out?

“I usually get an idea and find the most suitable materials and techniques afterwards as I am always curious to learn new skills. I like the mix of digital and analogue techniques such as silkscreen printing in combination with neat drawing and crafty printing. 


What message would you like your work to convey?


“I was trying to find and show a universality shared among different things by ‘interweaving’ different mediums, analog/digital, old/new.  As I come from very diverse cultural backgrounds and different disciplines, I am interested in trying to find similarity between things which look disconnected. If you abstract and simplify things, you can find an unexpected parallel of fundamental structure between unconnected things.”


What did you enjoy most during your time at Rietveld?


“Diversity, in many ways. Rietveld is a very international school and people gathering there have very diverse backgrounds. It was always very exciting to see how different the answer to the same question could be.”


What are your hopes and plans for the future?


“It’s something I’m still figuring out but I'm interested in both applied and autonomous projects, not as separate things, but more as one connected things, like a gradient. I'm curious about what I can do, and looking for something exciting! I'll be participating in a group show at De Sint Nicolaasstraat as a part of Inside Design from September 26th, 

so that’s the first thing I need to think about.”

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