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“Jun-ichi Arai” Profile

In 1932, Jun-ichi Arai was born in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, a city which has an important, one thousand year history as the center for textile manufacturing.

After graduating Kiryu high school, he succeeded his family’s business.  However, Arai could not give up his attraction to literature and theatre and after attending a school for acting, he organized a theatrical puppet group and became further involved in theatrical activities.  

Because of his outstanding gift as textile creator, it took no time to distinguish himself in that field.  In 1961, he received the Minister of International Trade and Industry Award at the 1st Chemical Textile Grand Fair.  By 1966, Arai acquired 36 industrial property rights, focusing mainly on manufacturing skills.

In 1968, he visited Central America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia as technical instructor in fabric manufacturing.  These trips provided Arai with much learning experience.  Being able to actually touch these superb fabrics created by unknown artists, he expressed his feelings as follows, “Among all cultural heritages, there is nothing more abundant than [textile] fabric.  Nothing can exceed its warmth.  Textile is gentle, and does not “speak” too much.”  He added, “Are the present textile artists creating fabric which embraces contemporary ideology?”

He also reflected upon himself with his own relentless question, and continued to challenge and study.  His works in the 1970’s were indeed the fruition of his pursuit.  His innovative fabric caught the eyes of fashion designers.  Collaborations with Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake, Kansai Yamamoto, etc. are still fresh in our memory.  A fashion series by Comme des Garçons, which at first sight looked like a collection of rags, appeared in the Paris Collection.  This would not have been possible without Arai’s textile. 

From the end of the 70’s through the 80’s, Arai’s activities rapidly expanded into much more diversified areas.  He was the first to pioneer Jacquard machines and computers, blending tie-dye manual skills and new technology.  In 1983, he received the 1st Mainichi Grand Special Prize. In 1984, he opened a textile shop “NUNO” (cloth) in Roppongi, Tokyo, and also held exhibitions in various cities.    

His energetic activities and achievements were highly valued and in 1987, he was named Honorable Royal Designer for Industry by the British Royal Academy of Arts. Furthermore in 1992, he received the Textile Design Medal by the Textile Institute (International Textile Academy).

Having acquired the highest honors and awards, he is also dedicated in training the younger generation.  Entering the 21st century, his creative urge has not declined.  Like his special fabric using incombustible thread, he continues to challenge new techniques.

Arai chooses not to move his house nor his workshop from his home town, Kiryu, where he was raised and nurtured.  In his hometown where people are equipped with much wisdom and creative hands, he has received much inspiration to his imagination, resulting in the creation of his marvelous fabric which is imbued with his message to the world.  In addition, many have visited Kiryu from around the world attracted to Arai’s work and his personality.  Quietly, yet fervently, gently and keenly, Arai will certainly continue walking his own path, never changing his style.

 

Personal History

1932

Born in Gunma Prefecture Kiryu City

1961

Awarded a commerce industry Cabinet minister prize in the first chemical fiber fair

1966

Developed numerous new textile techniques and holds patents for more than 36 processes

1968

Toured Central America, Eastern Europe, South Asia and other countries as textile adviser 

1979

Began developing the structure of computerized special coat arms textile

1983

Prize winner of “The Mainichi Fashion Prize in The First Special Prize” from Mainichi Shimbun

1984

Founded “Functional Textile Shop “Nuno” at the Axis building in Tokyo
Various new works are presented at “Nuno” before transferring actual management to president and chief executive officer in 1987

1985

Exhibited artwork and participated in “TEXTILE FOR THE 80’s” (RISD/USA) as a panelist

1983

Exhibition “Textile by Jun-ichi Arai” (RISD/USA).
After that exhibit in U.S.A, England, in Europe and Asia

1987

Awarded honorable title from “The Royal Society of Arts” (Honorary Royal Designer for Industry)

1992

Awarded prize by “The Textile Institute”
Exhibition “Hand and Technology” ( Yurakucho Marion/Tokyo)

1996

Became a guest professor at “Tama Arts University”

1997

The super micron fiber made of stainless steel metal proposed as new field of industry

1998

Exhibition “Textile of Imagination” (Gan Gouji, Nara: Temple of World Heritage)
Installed as the chairman of Jovian Christie, Inc., and Jun-Ichi Arai division is opened
The proposal of new textiles begins

1999

“Jun-Ichi Arai” brand opens in a Kiryu store
Exhibited metallic fiber work at River Center for Performing Arts,  Columbus, GA, USA 2002  

2000

Artwork and proposal for the optical catalyst function of titanium metal was made

2002

Became Guest Professor at “Renmin University of China”

2003

Exhibition “Nuno - Transparency and Reflection - Jun-ichi Arai”
Awarded Honorable Doctorate by The London Institute

2004

Exhibition “Jun-ichi Arai” at gallery gen in NY

2005

Exhibition “Jun-ichi Arai –Evolutional cloths” at The Museum of Modern Art, Gunma pref. 

2006

Exhibition “Jun-ichi Arai – Cross-Cloth” at Chofu City Culture Hall Tazukuri, Tokyo
Exhibition “Nuno-Monogatari” at Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology

Work held in permanent collection at:

  • American Craft Museum,
  • Bolose Textile History Museum
  • Carnegie Museum
  • Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
  • Dallas Museum
  • Gangoji
  • Kiryu Art Culture Center
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Okawa Museum
  • The Performing Arts Center in Columbus, Georgia
  • Philadelphia Museum
  • Power House Museum
  • Saint Louise Museum
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Yetepori Museum,

among others

Other careers:

  • Technology advisor of knit / lace / weave in Fukui, Tochio, Chichibu, Yuuki, Kiryu, and other regions
  • Special instructor, task instructor, advisor and guest professor at various universities and professional schools

 
Exhibitions:

  • Harris Museum
  • Lancaster University
  • RISD Museum
  • Hand Weavers Guild of America
  • Cooper-Hewitt National Museum
  • New York Parsons School
  • Canberra School of Art
  • Philadelphia College of Textile and Science
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • New Delhi, India

among others (excluding exhibitions in Japan)

Present positions held:

  • Guest Professor for Tama Arts University
  • Guest Professor for Renmin University of China
  • Chairman for Jovian Christie, Inc

 

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