An Artful Life: Kahori Maki

Born in Japan 1961, Kahori Maki is an acclaimed artist/designer, having produced many works in various disciplines including illustration, installation, painting, graphic design, and object design.  Working as an active freelancer since 1994, Maki has collaborated with leading brands and companies such as Designworks, Shiseido, Levi’s and McDonalds.

In addition, Maki has been working on Solo exhibitions and her works have featured in numerous fashion and design magazines.  Her un-mistaking recognisable style is seen extensively in posters, commercial advertising, window displays, interior walls of buildings, fashion shoot back drops, textile prints and even on cars. This month, Maki’s work covered the walls of an entire warehouse for an audio-visual event in Brooklyn.

Maki’s stylised imagery, regardless of where she features it, is striking and tends to provoke mystery with its edgy, dark, fluid and organic forms. Her designs depict nature in its beautiful power and seductiveness, portraying the exotic and the eerie.  Maki’s designs are always nature inspired, but her signature monochromatic illustrations are far from traditional depictions of nature.

(Maki is) one of the first fashion illustrators to identify the dramatic impact of the natural forms through dark monochromes rather than the more traditional soft pastels

Furthermore, Maki juxtaposes her work by placing it in the extreme urban environment or context – factoring in her philosophical concept of how urban life is deficient of nature.  A concept marvellously complimented by the surreal and dark moody nature of her work, portraying her deep connection to the less desired aspects of nature.

I am not afraid of looking into the shadows and shedding light on the beautiful creatures that live in the twilight worlds

Maki talks about connecting the aspects of nature to a part of the human soul, and I interpret her work as an expression of the depth and mystery contained therein. I find myself also connecting this quote above to the human soul, and what may lay within the darkest corners. I too, am not afraid of looking into the shadows of my own soul and shedding light on what may be there. What beauty and treasures are still yet to be discovered?

Finally, I am inspired by Maki’s love of nature and the darkness of it that some may find oppressive or grotesque. Many of her works convey to me the idea of portals into other worlds. She expresses the melancholic with such elegance; one cannot help but be allured into the realms of swirling, meandering lines and forms.

The work of Maki has influenced my current project significantly. I have drawn upon her concept of combining animal and insect life with fauna and flora, and placed the bold outlines of them in a perfectly random occurring pattern.  This research has led me to have confidence in taking an organic and bold approach to pattern, and I have explored and developed numerous possibilities for an outcome in this brief, of which I hope to experiment with further in the future. For the mean time, lets see how my project for ‘Pattern Universe’ has developed.

Watch this space.

References:

IdN. Wayfinding+Signage: Kahori Maki. IdN , v17 (n5), 56-57.

Maki, K. (2010). Works. Retrieved May 28, 2013, from Kahori Maki: http://www.k-maki.com/

Quinn, B. (2009). Textile Designers: At the Cutting Edge. London, UK: Lawrence King Publishing.

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