October 22 2010
Mark C O’Flaherty
I’ve been a loyal customer, nay disciple, of Issey Miyake since I first encountered the Tokyo-based designer in 1985 at the Bodyworks exhibition at the Boilerhouse Project in the V&A (a gallery space that would later move and become the Design Museum). His work was, and still is, more fine art and sculpture than pure fashion. I still have a framed poster from the show in my house – one of a selection that could, if they were all pieced together, create one immense wall-sized portrait of Miyake himself.
Miyake no longer designs his own commercial fashion collections; instead he heads an umbrella design studio that incorporates the work of other like-minded, progressive designers, while he focuses on futuristic garment technology and the arts. Along with the celebrated heat-treated pleated garments and wonderful graphic patterns of the collections shown regularly in Paris, there are lesser known, but no less wonderful accessories. My latest acquisition is the new Vue watch (from £295-£360, depending on colour/finish, available from Miyake stores worldwide), designed for Miyake by Swiss industrial designer Yves Behar of Fuseproject.
The Vue has all the hallmarks of a Miyake Design Studio classic, with a Zen-like purity and lots of smart detail: it comes set into a paper memo pad, with the shape of watch cut into the pages to cushion it, and with the sheets colour-graduated. Only the current hour’s digit is entirely visible on the Vue watch face, while the one before and the one after are partially hidden. Everything else, bar a bold needle hand to signify the minute, is invisible. One could ponder all kinds of significance relating to the unknowable nature of time and the future and the wearer’s relationship with it – and, given Miyake’s intellectual stance on design, everything he puts his name to has profound consideration beyond mere function. But beyond that, the Vue is a simple and beautiful way to tell the time.