Rei Kawakubo revealed as recipient of 2019 Isamu Noguchi Award
today Mar 24, 2019
As Comme des Garçons celebrates its 50th anniversary, the Noguchi Museum has announced that the brand’s founder, Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo, has been chosen to receive the 2019 Isamu Noguchi Award.
Awarded to those who exemplify the Japanese-American artist’s spirit of innovation and commitment to cultural exchange between East and West, the Isamu Noguchi Award will be presented to Kawakubo at the Noguchi Museum Annual Benefit on May 2, 2019.
According to the museum, the Tokyo-born designer was selected because she "has consistently defied notions not only of beauty, but also of what fashion can be, at once confounding our expectations for clothing and – like Noguchi – challenging the idea that design and art are inherently different endeavors. Also like Noguchi, Kawakubo celebrates not only forms, but also the spaces between them."
Indeed, over the course of her career, Kawakubo – who aside from establishing her fashion label Comme des Garçons in 1969, also co-founded multi-brand retailer Dover Street Market with husband Adrian Joffe in 2004 – has incorporated elements of graphic design, advertising and interior decoration as integral parts of her design process and brand identity.
Furthermore, her work has featured in a number of different exhibitions and was even the subject of a solo exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between" in 2017.
The Isamu Noguchi Award is not the first accolade accrued by Kawakubo, who received the Fashion Group International Award in 1986 and the Excellence in Design Award from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 2000.
The designer, who splits her time between Tokyo and Paris, was also named a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1993.
Kawakubo will be in illustrious company, when she is presented with the Isamu Noguchi Award later this spring. Last year, the award went to Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa and American landscape designer Edwina von Gal, while previous recipients include British architect Lord Norman Foster, Japanese painter Hirsohi Senju, American sculptor Elyn Zimmerman and Osaka-born architect Tadao Ando.
"I am not an artist, an architect or even a product designer. I have always only been looking to make something new, which didn’t exist before, and make a business out of that. Looking to make new things, without compromise, is not that acceptable. I have to constantly fight against conservative opinion and authority," commented Kawakubo in a press release. "I remember Noguchi presented something for the Osaka World Fair in 1970, which was refused because it was ‘too new’. I know that feeling...not much has changed. I continue to fight, more and more."
Located in New York’s Long Island City neighborhood, in the borough of Queens, The Noguchi Museum was founded by the artist as a space in which to display his own work in 1985 and continues to be a hub for research and appreciation of his oeuvre.