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Ukraine design meets Kyoto artistry in crowdfunding drive

Ryosuke Fukusada is seen with craftwork devised by Ukrainian designers, in Kyoto's Sakyo Ward on Sept. 22, 2022. (Mainichi/Sachiko Miyakawa)

KYOTO -- A Japanese designer and others are supporting Ukrainian designers by turning their ideas into products such as tableware and everyday goods crafted with traditional Kyoto techniques and selling them via crowdfunding to send a portion of the proceeds to a design studio in Ukraine.

    Ryosuke Fukusada, 42, a designer based in Kyoto, planned the project after being contacted by Svoya Studio, a design office in Dnipro in eastern Ukraine, around March, shortly after Russia's invasion of the country began. Fukusada had worked with the studio before, and they asked him if there were any design work orders.

    Prior to the Russian invasion, 16 people at Svoya Studio were working on interior and other designs but orders have dropped lately due to the effects of the conflict, and some designers have evacuated overseas.

    In the hope of supporting Ukrainian designers willing to protect their home country by continuing their work, Fukusada sought cooperation from local companies in Kyoto. Six firms took up his proposal and ordered designs for items including flower vases, "furoshiki" wrapping cloths and "gamaguchi" kiss-lock change case, while Fukusada and those involved in the projects held discussions via email and online conferencing systems.

    Among a total of 10 types of products, techniques for urushi lacquerware and Kyo-yaki pottery are used in vases, "mamezara" small dishes and sake-serving pots. One of the products, a "Urushi mamesara" dish, comes in two different designs including a yellow one adorned with traditional Ukrainian motifs of the world tree and birds. Another item, "Motanka kokeshi," is a traditional Japanese wooden doll inspired by the Motanka doll, a Ukrainian amulet doll that features threads in the shape of a cross on its face. The face of the Motanka kokeshi also bears a cross instead of the regular eyes and mouth.

    "Each of these items has a different story, and we've created collaborations like no other. I'd like people to take these items in their hands," Fukusada commented.

    The crowdfunding drive will run until Oct. 31 via the website: Part of the proceeds will be sent to Svoya Studio. After that, each company will sell some of the products individually.

    (Japanese original by Sachiko Miyakawa, Osaka City News Department)

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