Breathe In Matohu, Breathe Out Oribe

In the name of R&R, I had KFK hightail me over to Hsi Lai Temple for some much needed zen time. I had spent Saturday afternoon slaving painfully over paperwork and my brain felt like it was going to explode all over my desk. Burning some incense, some time in the meditation room, walks through the gardens…I was so in need of some buddha lovin’.

Perhaps it was the recent release of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, but I’ve been slowly nurturing a growing obsession with tea and tea sets. My mother-in-law has a neat collection of them, one of which comes in the form of seashells.


Love! I wonder if she’d let me have it…

Anyway, it reminded me of Japanese design duo Matohu’s Spring/Summer collection titled Oribe, after Futura Oribe, a samurai and “principal pupil of the great tea-ceremony master, Sen no Rikyu.”

Oribe broke through the boundaries of the aesthetics of his master, which were stoic and minimalist. He aimed at creating a bright, playful atmosphere amidst the stillness and equilibrium of the tea ceremony. It was in order to create a moment of memorable play, of sharing the joy of life with the guests.

Matohu’s first and last themes at “Beauty in the Keicho Period” were both “Oribe”. This is because we believe this pottery embodies not only a 400-year-old Japanese sense of beauty, but also our brand concept.

In this collection, rather than focusing on the pottery itself as in the first collection, we strived to recreate the essence of Oribe – an expression of the joy of life, using bright colors, unique cutting and asymmetric shapes.”


The clothing is totally not my style, but I’m intrigued by the clearly Asian aesthetic as well as the intelligence behind the clothing. While the garments definitely reflect a playful side, the clean lines indicate a deliberate thoughtfulness. It’s through this collection that I see fashion as a wearable art, but with a contemporary, “2.0-ish” flavor. I almost see digital matrices that one would find on desktop wallpapers (Tetris anyone?) combined with Ikea furniture displays.


In contrast to other designers I’ve been watching whose collections are saturated with Old World influences, the simplicity of Matohu’s line is refreshing. I can almost feel my head clear of the day’s worries and tribulations. Who knew clothing could be described as “zen?”

Regardless of the collection’s obvious appeal, I’m sticking to those Old World-gypsy-hippie clothing because my personal zen comes from clothing that evokes feelings of escape, vacation getaways and freedom with a shot of inner peace by strolling through a meditation garden…or sipping on my rose oolong tea from a seashell cup.


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