The first time I went to Japan, it was magic. It was an office trip to look at the cool architecture. But beyond architecture, there was inspiration to be found in every single aspect of living, smelling, hearing—I grew addicted to the way they announced the names of the stations each time the train stopped; subconsciously I could feel my tongue curling the Japanese words around my mouth, trying to get the pronunciation right—there was a softness to everything, which I think came mainly from the people and their polite culture. The desire for perfection in the smallest things impresses every time.
After that, everything from and about Japan got my attention. I believe most people who are into details and design feel that way. Japanese lifestyle store Atomi is my little bit of Japan fix even when I’m not buying anything. Such a small shop but I can spend too much time, taking in every single item, looking for something to want a bit more. How do I spend my time there? Just caressing the wooden arms of the Maruni chairs or the Yumiko Iihoshi porcelain plates in dirty mashmellow blue or grey green.
And of course, the items from Fog Linen Work—soft fabrics for kitchen use, aprons and trays with linen print. If you don’t know Fog Linen Work, you obviously haven’t read enough Kinfolk-ish gazettes. The brand has the combination of a charming backstory and well-designed, functional products. Ten years ago, Japanese Yumiko Sekine was searching for items to add to the inventory of her gift wholesale business. She met with some students from Lithuania and found out about the linen industry of the Northern European country and desired to create linen cloths for the household. And so started Fog Linen Work, with 100 per cent linen products made in Lithuania that Yumiko designed. The name of the brand is as authentic as the products. “I get inspirations from my trips, and I especially like the cities famous for fog like San Francisco and London. That is how i named our brand Fog Linen Work,” shares Yumiko. Poetry, is it not?
Today I’m going to talk about their baby and children’s range. It’s a small collection that includes super-soft organic cotton clothing and accessories including a charming bear-bib and pilot hat with pop-up ears (packed in sweet muslin pouches), a knit blanket in cream, tote bags with animal prints for your little one’s books and little children things, and trays with charming squiggles of animals against a linen-print backdrop.
Yumiko was kind enough to answer some questions on the collection:
Can you share a favourite memory from your childhood involving linen?
My mother used a lot of linen at home for pillowcases, table clothes, napkins, etc. Always my lunch box was wrapped in linen napkins, and I liked to help iron linen at home.
How did you curate the items for the baby/children collection for Fog Linen Work? What are the most important considerations in the design of these products for the collection?
I think of the baby and kids items as gifts; things I like to give when friends have babies or kids. My mother still keeps many little things I used when I was a baby or child and they remind me of my good childhood memories. I am hoping our baby and kids items to be the same for others. They can keep them for a long time as a memory [keepsake].
Tell us about the illustrations on the trays and bags. Did you draw them?
We have different persons do the illustrations. Some I draw, and some are by my friend or my assistant’s child. I happened to find those illustrations by chance; they were just drawing them for fun and I liked them for my products.
How do you envision for your trays to be used and can you describe the manufacturing process?
They can be used in many places —the kitchen, table, desk, bath room, bed side; I have many at home! A piece of linen fabric is pressed on the polypropylene cast, and then the logo is silkscreened at the back of the tray.
How do you work with your production team in Lithuania? How often do you travel there and please share with us something you like about the country?
I usually go there twice a year to make new products with the factory. There are always new ideas and inspiration to get from the production. I feel that the people in Lithuania are very honest and hardworking, and also smart. They are also very proud of their own country. It is very nice to work with them. Also, Lithuania is a very beautiful country.
+ images courtesy of Atomi