Approximately 3,000 white hats floating through Fumihiko Maki’s Spiral Building in Tokyo make up the framework of the Akio Hirata Exhibition of Hats. Japanese design office Nendo designed the gorgeous setting for a retrospective of the work of the 80-year-old Hirata - Japan’s most influential milliner - who collaborated with many of Japan’s finest fashion designers including Yohji Yamamoto, Hanae Mori and Rei Kawakubo.
Nendo responded to the creative freedom Hirata put into the design of women’s hats with an exhibition design that looks like a big cloud shattered in pieces, or rather like thousands of small pieces that together make up a nebulous ghostly figure.
’The mass-produced non-woven fabric hats are the antithesis of Hirata’s carefully handmade hats’, Nendo director Oki Sato explains how the ’fake’ hats are mere shadows of the real hats exhibited. ’We wanted the hundred precious hats of Hirata to stand out in this exhibition’.
Using Smash, a unique non-woven polyester fabric developed by textile company Asahi Kasei, Nendo mass-produced a lightweight hat with a distinctive shape. The hats are suspended from the ceiling with transparent nylon threads at different heights and evoke the impression of hats blowing in the wind. Visitors are invited to freely wander, head-in-the-clouds, through this highly theatrical setting.