Couture techniques and exquisite fabrics set the work of textile designer Maki Yamamoto in a league of its own. Her collaborations have included those with top fashion houses (such as Dior), interior decorators and noted architects (such as Peter Marino on fabric finishes for Chanel stores across the globe). But the New York-based designer also creates bespoke commissions for private clients – from hand-stitched wall panels and hangings to sumptuous curtains (from $5,000) in heavy lined silk organza and exquisite pleated valances (from $3,000) – each unique but united by its playful and sophisticated spirit.
Private projects begin with fabric and palette selection, whether for a standalone piece or a design scheme for an entire room. Yamamoto then creates a detailed sample for her clients’ approval. “Most people want neutral hues – beiges and creams – that they can live with day to day and that provide a backdrop for a room,” she explains. “But I do love colour and try to incorporate it into designs wherever possible.” She is also very much inspired by nature and fluid, organic forms; rivers, oceans, waves and clouds all figure prominently in her designs.
The Tokyo-born designer’s stylistic trademark –textural juxtapositions of raw silk, linen, cotton and wool – is used to particular strengthon pillows (from $400) and bed coverings (from $3,000).“I like to use very traditional fabrics and techniques, but in modern ways,” says Yamamoto. “Silk charmeuse, for example, is a very formal fabric that is typically associated with women’s evening dresses. I like to use it for accent pillows, but will use detailed wool stitching or shibori dyeing techniques for contrast.”
Inspiration for one-of-a-kind textilesis often taken from past collections. The Yoake range uses silk charmeuse, linen and burlap in overlapping, contrasting patterns, while Japanese ikat kasuri weaves (second picture) can be dyed to match an existing colour scheme. Derivations from her Musubi designs that mimic traditional Japanese wrapping techniques (coupling vinyl ribbons with shimmering silver and gold linen) make for elegant, ethereal wall and window hangings (panels from 1.2m x 2.4m, from $2,000, first picture).
Perhaps most spectacular, though, are Yamamoto’s standalone artworks. From simple 63.5cm x 78.5cm wall hangings ($1,500) to the massive installations that she has created for clients such as the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, each is layered, intricate and unexpected.