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Woolmark Texprint judge: Masahiro Oono from Japanese wool specialist Nikke

11 September 2012 by TexSelect in Sponsors, Judges & Champions

Textile designer Masahiro Oono from Japanese wool specialist Nikke joins judging panel for the 2012 Woolmark Texprint Award in support of Campaign for Wool prize.

Versatile, strong and natural: Merino wool provides textile designers with yarns and fabrics which are luxurious and sustainable, whether used in interiors or in apparel. The Woolmark Company, the not-for-profit organisation owned by over 29,000 Australian woolgrowers, invests in research, development, innovation and marketing along the global supply chain for Australian wool — the largest source of this noble fibre.

The Woolmark Company encourages new designers to explore the design possibilities and benefits of Merino wool through the sponsorship of the second annual Woolmark Texprint Award in support of Campaign for Wool. The award recognises design excellence in fabrics created with 60% or more Merino wool, whether presented as printed, woven, knitted and/or mixed media fabric.

A winner will be selected from among the 24 designers who will show their work in the Texprint village at Indigo, which is part of Première Vision Pluriel, September 19-21, 2012. The Woolmark Company and Texprint are delighted that experts in woollen textile creation will be choosing the winner.

In the first of two profile focuses on the judges, we speak with Masahiro Oono, project manager of Nikke Group’s textile design and marketing department in the Osaka-based organisation’s textile and clothing materials division – otherwise known as the Japan Wool Textile Co Ltd.

Nikke was established over 110 years ago, starting as a manufacturer of wool products and has since expanded into six different domains with the aim of providing “products and services to meet customers’ demands and make a contribution to society”. Its textile and clothing materials division includes the development, manufacture and wholesaling of products for apparel primarily incorporating wool. Like wool, Nikke’s corporate philosophy is to be “gentle and warm toward people and the planet”. ­

On meeting with Mr Oono on Nikke’s stand at textile exhibition Première Vision, Paris, he presents what he describes as the company’s signature fabric: a superfine wool chiffon gauze weighing 120g per meter which costs in the region of €35 per meter, which puts it in the realm of luxury brands. Indeed, he lists Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Jil Sander and Burberry as top customers.

The most popular colours selected by buyers in February were sky blue or mustard, however for Mr Oono, achieving technical excellence is more important than using colour in design: “Nikke has a long history and a large archive, and we do a lot of work from the archive. I try to do what other can’t or aren’t able to do.”

Mr Oono joined Nikke 25 years ago. With two generations of kimono artisans in his family, he says his parents were happy when he decided to study fashion and textiles. “Since I was a child I have liked clothing. When I was deciding what to do at university, new stylists such as Yohji Yamamoto were coming through and I wanted to do something in this field,” he explains.

To the question ‘why would you recommend that new textile designers experiment with wool?’ he replies with another question: “Maybe students think that wool is thick and not interesting? But high end wool has so much potential. It’s important to know the possibilities of wool. If you don’t know wool and wool fibres you will never become a good textile designer.”

Mr Oono is a great advocate of wool and praises its inherent nature: “It’s natural, and comes from sheep and there’s a long history of man weaving sheep’s wool. You can do so many things with it: felt, twill, crêpe… there are so many possibilities. It’s also strong.”

As a Woolmark Texprint Award judge, he says he will be looking for designs that show “something unusual, that no one else has thought of, a new way”.  As well as lending his expertise in judging the competition, Mr Oono will be a source of advice and inspiration for the 24 designers taking part in Texprint this year as he meets them and reviews their design work while looking for the winner: “We need young people – we need new ideas. Textile design is very creative work, work that gives you the possibility to realise your dreams.”

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TexSelect is a registered charity, entirely funded by the generous sponsorship of industry, by British charitable foundations, and by individuals connected to the industry. All believe wholeheartedly in supporting the next generation of textile design talent and in encouraging innovation and excellence.

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