This week on CREATURES FEATURES Mike Abelson, the co-founder of Postalco tells us about adjusting to life in Japan, the inspirations behind creating new pieces, and his secret talents.
CREATURES FEATURES: Hi! Please tell us a bit about yourself: where are you from, where do you live, what do you do?
Mike Abelson: Living in Tokyo, via Brooklyn, but originally from Los Angeles.
CF: How did you end up in Japan?
MA: It was a fateful couple of visits...
CF: What were the biggest challenges of adjusting to living in Japan?
MA: Finding the right level of politeness for the situation, improper miso soup drinking, learning to communicate with craftsmen.
CF: What do you love most about it?
MA: I love the food - it is endlessly deep... with the hot weather here I'm currently into making lemon syrup.
CF: What are your favorite places in Tokyo?
MA: Shibuya backstreets & old school coffee shops.
CF: You recently did the window for the Hermès store in Japan - can you talk a bit about that? How long will it be up for?
MA: The show is called "Tool Roots" and it's a 3D chart of objects arranged by their primary elements. Many tools around us are combinations of the basic shapes of Bowls, Sticks, and Rope. I wanted to look at tools the way we look at a spectrum of color. The three primary colors are Yellow, Red and Blue, and mixed in different proportions these three colors create all colors. Like blending colors, combining various tools creates an entire range of tools. Hermes objects are mixed into found items like buckets and brooms. I also got a bit obsessed with rope and spent a lot of time taking rope apart...
The Hermès exhibit is up until July 25th.
CF: Let’s talk a bit about Postalco. We’ve been carrying Postalco for years, and we love it for the impeccable quality and clean, functional design. What are your inspirations when you are creating new products? Is it a new shape, texture, or color? Or something else entirely?
MA: I have to make things - if I’m not making something I feel off. Yuri, the Postalco co-founder, makes things too. We talk a lot when we’re developing something. We always feel like things should seem like they have existed for a while but that we have never quite seen them before. We start with what we personally want to use every day and take it from there. Being in Japan and making everything here, we work very closely with new and traditional Japanese techniques so that inspires and influences us.
CF: What Postalco products do you use the most?
CF: What is your next project for Postalco?
MA: We are working on a chair as well as a book about our making process at Postalco.
CF: Describe your studio practice.
MA: Super brief morning meeting with our staff and then we are all off to our own zones of focus. We prototype in the studio and then develop final samples with craftsmen in Tokyo. From there we figure out a good way to show the things we make. We also do various consulting projects to keeps things fresh.
CF: Who are your favorite designers ( fashion / furniture / interior / etc.) ?
MA: I love the house of JB Blunk, the wood sculptor. Also, the furniture made by Kawaii Kanjiro - the Kyoto ceramicist. Japanese construction site workwear is consistently mind-blowing - especially fan cooled inflating jackets for hot weather.
CF: What are you reading right now?
MA: I like to read about 5 books at a time - they seem to weave themselves into a new book that way. Currently: Eat Me, The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin, Naked Statistics (Charles Wheelan), and Cosmicomics (Italo Calvino).
CF: What are your top 3 favorites songs?
MA: Anything by Glenn Gould, the Tiny Desk concert by Tank and the Bangas, the Phew new album Light Sleep.
CF: If you could travel in time and/or space, where would you go?
MA: Travel around in early 1900’s China with anthropologist Joseph Rock.
CF: What is your secret talent?
MA: Making sandwiches.