Making Nuno: Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudo Reiko

Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh

September-October 2021

Central Sampling Display- Making Nuno: Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudo Reiko, Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh

Dovecot presents a new partnership with Japan House London and the Centre for Heritage Art & Textiles in Hong Kong to launch an innovative exhibition of works by critically acclaimed textile designer Sudō Reiko including use of multi-media techniques.

Dovecot Studios Exhibition Entrance-Making Nuno: Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudo Reiko.

As Design Director of leading textile firm NUNO (布 -Japanese for fabric) for the past 30 years, Reiko is renowned for championing new methods of sustainable manufacturing alongside traditional Japanese craft traditions, working with unconventional materials and engineering techniques to push the boundaries of textile production. Making NUNO brings Reiko’s extraordinary work to Edinburgh for the first time and features five large-scale installations combining both NUNO textiles with art projections created by leading Tokyo-based technological designers Panoramatiks.
The exhibition will celebrate a variety of creative techniques from washi dyeing to chemical lace embroidery, and each installation is accompanied by drawings and sketches alongside raw materials and design prototypes to combine traditional Japanese aesthetics with the latest digital and synthetics technologies.


Set against the backdrop of Dovecot Studios, one of the world’s leading tapestry studios, Making NUNO brings the viewer closer to Reiko’s manufacturing processes through a unique combination of traditional processes, unconventional materials, and modern projection in a unique juxtaposition of the traditional and the contemporary alongside use of an extensive range of video clips and film. https://dovecotstudios.com/exhibitions/making-nuno-japanese-textile-innovation-from-sud-reiko

Central Sampling Display- Making Nuno: Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudo Reiko, Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh

This was a much-anticipated exhibition for me as I had visited Japan early last year and increasingly been influenced by the Japanese aesthetic and their relationship with materials. I was keen to see the work of the Japanese textile designer Sudō Reiko, including the manufacturing processes through these five large-scale installations which showcase the limits of textile design through using unconventional materials and inventing new methods of sustainable manufacturing. Making Nuno’s installations present the techniques Sudō uses in her work such as washi (traditional Japanese paper) dyeing and chemical lace embroidery. The exhibition also features supporting material in the form of design prototypes and drawings, which invite audiences to learn about the craft of one of Japan’s most notable current textile designers.

Dovecot Studios Main Entrance-Making Nuno: Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudo Reiko-Arrived early to have the exhibition to myself.
Exhibition Introduction. Making Nuno: Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudo Reiko, Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh
Beautiful Exhibition Statement concerning What is Nuno and the meaning of such a relationship with textiles for Sudo Reiko, Textile Designer.

The first installation explored the upcycling of Kibiso, a by-product of the silk industry. The outer layer of the cocoon, known as Kibiso, is often thrown away as it is too dense, thick and hard to use when making fabric, but this textile artist has managed to use this material effectively.

Kibiso Crisscross- The cloth here has been made using Kibiso and the design was inspired by reuse.
Kibiso Crisscross- The cloth here has been made using Kibiso and the design was inspired by reuse.
Web Shaping-Adapted industrial materials used to develop new fabrics through use of heat and screen-printing with layers of polyester taffeta to create a sculpted textile
Web Shaping-Adapted industrial materials used to develop new fabrics through use of heat and screen-printing with layers of polyester taffeta to create a sculpted textile

Chemical Lace Embroidery was made through using deckle-edged rolls of thick handmade washi (Japanese paper). Tape was stitched onto paper then the paper was torn away to create the “chemical lace” method. A large steering wheel embroidery machine was used to stitch the curls of ribbon onto a water-soluble base, which was immersed in water leaving a lace-like rolls of patterns.

Thick handmade washi (Japanese paper) used to support the construction of the stitching of tape into curls and swirls of patterns
Completed roll of stitched tape still attached to the washi (Japanese paper) which supported the process of construction through embroidering the tape.
Completed roll of stitched tape still attached to the washi (Japanese paper) which supported the process of construction through embroidering the tape as well as detached from the washi
Detail from the completed roll of stitched tape which has been detached from the washi (Japanese paper) which supported the process of construction through embroidering the tape.
Stunning use of lighting and overhead projection to demonstrate a range of manufacturing processes with good effect.
Multiple threads in use to showcase a range of spinning and weaving processes as highlighted through a series of films to showcase the limits of textile design through using unconventional materials and inventing new methods of sustainable manufacturing.
Multiple threads in use to showcase a range of spinning and weaving processes as highlighted through a series of films to showcase the limits of textile design through using unconventional materials and inventing new methods of sustainable manufacturing.

Washi Print: Amate which is rougher bark cloth from Central Mexico was used as the initial inspiration to develop and utilise their own coarser papers in Japan. Amate contrasts with the washi Japanese paper which creates thin, strong papers of quality. Despite this through laying strips of amate tree bark into grid-like sheets unique textures and patterns were created which fuelled further research using their own rougher papers within textile development.

The natural patterns and textures of the Amate bark cloth are replicated using Kozo papers to realise similar outcomes
Nuno mix and match the properties of the Amate bark cloth through taking the thick sheets of Kozo paper which is then patterned to emulate the cross-laid bark cloth. These are then fixed to velvet using adapted metal leaf manufacturing which results in a leathery outcome.
Reiko Sudo is managing director of NUNO and one of Japan’s most influential textile designers. Her textiles have been exhibited around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

About Sudō Reiko


Sudō was born in Ishioka City, Ibaraki Prefecture. After serving as a textile laboratory assistant in the Department of Industrial, Interior, and Craft Design at Musashino Art University, Sudō helped found Nuno Corporation. As Nuno’s Design Director, she combines Japanese traditions of dyeing and weaving with cutting-edge technology to create a wide range of innovative textiles. Sudō received an honorary MA degree from the University for the Creative Arts (UK) and has been an Emeritus Professor at Tokyo Zokei University since 2019.


Since 2008, Sudō has worked in fabric planning and development for Mujirushi Ryohin (MUJI) and the Tsuruoka Textile Industry Cooperative, and in design advising for AZU. She joined MUJI’s Advisory Board in 2016. Recipient of the Mainichi Design Award, the Rosco Design Prize, the JID Award, and many other honours, Sudō has received high acclaim within Museum of Modern Art (USA), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA), Boston Museum of Art (USA), the Victoria & Albert Museum (UK) and The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (JPN) among many others. Representative projects include textile designs for Mandarin Oriental Tokyo, the Tokyo American Club and Oita Prefectural Art Museum. Sudō is frequently invited to give lectures and hold exhibitions around the world, including the major Koi nobori Now! textile installation at the National Art Center Tokyo in 2018 and Sudō Reiko: Making NUNO Textiles at the Centre for Heritage Arts & Textile Hong Kong in 2019. https://theweaveshed.org/

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