Sachie Muramatsu lives in the Japanese city of Sakura, located in Chiba Prefecture. After graduating from Kuwasawa Design School, she took an apprenticeship at a studio specialising in ‘Kaga Yuzen’, the traditional art of hand painting silk for Kimonos. It was through trial and error that she started making lampshades made from Japanese washi paper and in 2003, she had her first solo exhibition. I talked to Sachie about her beautiful creations.
Why did you start making lampshades?
My mom was making doll’s clothes when I was little, there were many beautiful colourful fabrics at home such as lace or organdie. I was helping her often.
Since I grew up in such an environment, I always liked drawing pictures or making products, so I joined an ad design agency after studying at a graphic design school.
I was eager however to make something with my hands. I quit that company and learned the kimono dying technique in a kimono workshop. I devoted myself to the traditional kimono patterns which depict the beauty of everyday nature. It was there that I had an epiphany to create handmade lamp shades in this style.
What are your lights made of?
They are made of washi (traditional Japanese paper). There is a wire in each petal, like a leaf vein, which makes it possible to open or close and change the shape of lampshade. The petals are painted in acrylics.
What else can you tell us about the process of creating each lamp?
I tear the Japanese paper by hand and make it into the shape of a petal, then I dye them one by one.
I twist the dried Japanese paper with my hands to make wrinkles and put the weights on top overnight to settle them, just like making pressed flowers.
After that, a wire is put between the two petals to bind them. I combine these petals to complete the lampshade. I can make one to three pieces per day.
What types of flowers and plants are your lamps inspired by?
I sometimes get inspiration from flowers such as the rose or lotus, but more often my works are based on the beautiful colours of the landscape and nature.
What else has influenced your work?
I’m influenced by the glass craftsman Charles Martin Émile Gallé from the Art Nouveau era and the lamps of the French glassmaking company Daum Frères.
What kind of interior design projects have incorporated your lights?
I have made lamps for the exhibition ‘The Lotus Garden’ at the QAGOMA contemporary art museum located in Brisbane, Australia.
What do you enjoy most about working with paper and light?
The happiest moment for me is how the petals of delicate Japanese paper, which I have dyed one by one, shine when they are lit up.
What projects are you working on right now?
I am preparing a bracket light now and am planning to announce it later this year.