Daphne Mohajer va Pesaran and Jake Nakashima-Edwards, working under the title DNJ Paper, create wearable paper garments as a response to the multitude of social and ethical issues posed by the fashion industry.
Paying homage to the longstanding tradition of using paper as a clothing material throughout Asian cultures, DNJ Paper apple the use of this humble and often-overlooked medium in their practice. A collaborative research project and fashion brand founded by designers Daphne Mohajer va Pesaran and Jake Nakashima-Edwards, DNJ Paper use handmade Japanese paper (washi), made from the bark of the Paper Mulberry tree to interrogate fast fashion, consumerism and disposability.
INTERROGATING FAST FASHION, CONSUMERISM AND DISPOSABILITY
Throughout their Atelier residency, DNJ Paper will create a series of art-come-accessories pieces using traditional Japanese paper (washi), which is sourced from the bark of the Paper mulberry tree–a tree native to Asia and used by Native Pacific cultures to make barkcloth. Although an unconventional material for making clothing in the west, DNJ Paper refers to Japan’s deep history of using paper to craft exquisitely beautiful garments.
All crafted in their on-site workshop, the pieces are limited edition and one-of-a-kind. The Puffy Clutch features two small internal pillows that makes it both comforting and tactile to hold; the Sashiko Ballcap is crafted from deadstock fabric which is hand-stitched to washi paper, coated in melted beeswax and baked; and the Paper Mac Coat is completely made-to-order, cut from luxurious handmade paper backed with creamy wool or cotton.
“We need to be looking at these materials differently, rather than seeing them as waste and at their end of life, no longer being used for their original purpose, we are framing them as a raw material, at the beginning of their second lifecycle. Perhaps as the building blocks to becoming something new.”
AN INTERPRETATION THROUGH LAMPS
DNJ Paper will also collaborate with fellow maker Cordon Salon on a series of experimental lamp prototypes that utilise materials reclaimed from the Hanover House building such as ceiling tiles, wadding and metal. While each lamp will be unique, the series will reference organic forms like fungi and stalactites/stalagmites. A response to the construction industry’s rampant waste issue, these bespoke lamps will show that repurposed materials can be turned into beautiful objects worthy of our attention and affection.
Referencing a 2016 experiment conducted in Japan in which scientists discovered how a specific kind of bacteria was able to decompose, or ‘eat’, PET plastic (which most bottles are made out of). “We imagine that through our efforts of scavenging and material interpretation, a new species will emerge from the waste of Hanover House,” they say, dubbing this new species Quisquiliarum et charta (meaning waste and paper in Latin). “The light-giving organism, derived from waste materials found at BETA along with handmade Japanese paper, will be interpreted through our lamps.”
Although an unconventional material for making clothing in the west, DNJ Paper refers to Japan’s deep history of using paper to craft exquisitely beautiful garments. Paper may not seem like a suitable material for making clothing, but can be strong and durable if made in a specific way. In Japan, clothing is one of the hundreds of products which have been made out of paper over the centuries, and is called kamiko.
Around 910 CE, Japanese Buddhist monks began creating garments out of their paper sutras, spawning a lasting tradition of wearing paper clothing that was later adopted by farmers and the upper classes. Throughout its history, Japanese paper, washi (和紙), has been produced in villages and towns across the Japanese archipelago. From these places, hundreds of local varieties of washi were produced as a result of a contingent relationship between local landscapes and communities.
Mirroring BETA and STH BNK’s desire to challenge current ways of thinking in the name of progression, DNJ Paper repositions paper as a disposable material and raise it up as a material with not only a longstanding cultural history but a tool to create a dialogue around throwaway culture and fashion.
“WHAT ROLE CAN PAPER GARMENTS SUCH AS THESE PLAY IN THE CRITICAL DISCOURSE AROUND FASHION? THEY HELP US REVEAL ASPECTS OF HOW WE WEAR AND CARE FOR GARMENTS; THEY HELP US ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT AESTHETIC AND INTERSUBJECTIVE DURABILITY AS WELL AS PROVENANCE.”
DNJ Paper on Kamiko Bomber (2020)
ABOUT DNJ PAPER
DNJ Paper is a collaborative research project and fashion brand.
Designers Daphne Mohajer va Pesaran (PhD) and Jake Nakashima-Edwards use traditional Japanese paper (washi), made from the bark of the Paper Mulberry tree (Broussonetia Papyrifera), in nontraditional ways of making paper clothing in response to pressing social, aesthetic, and conceptual questions related to contemporary fashion practice.
DNJ Paper Website
Learn more about DNJ Paper
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