"If I made a documentary about making of Nychair X, would people like to watch it?"
A story was uploaded to Instagram one day. It was published by a young generation Parisian creator Nicolas Yuthanan Chalmeau, brand director of Sillage and photographer, among other things. He's also a fashion icon with a great taste; the items he finds in his home country and features online become the objects of interest worldwide.
This time, Nicolas visited one of the factories responsible for the manufacturing of Nychair X fabric, and saw how the sailcloth is made in Kurashiki Hanpu factory in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, the leading place for manufacturing saicloth in Japan. He took captivating photos of the place with his unique perspective.
Why was he drawn to Nychair X in the first place? Why did he decide to visit the place the seat fabric is made at? When we asked those questions, his answers revealed a person who a lot of respect for manufacturers and a lot of passion towards objects.
Nicolas Yuthanan Chalmeau standing in the factory.
ー First, I would like to ask about your visit to the Kurashiki Hanpu fabric factory. Did anything leave a particularly strong impression on you?
What surprised me is that the old looms (shuttle looms) from the 1950s are still used to this day. They looked like monsters, and they made a lot of noise while they made the fabric. I also could watch the work of the highly skilled and trained engineers from up close. It was a splendid experience. There was also something moving about old machines making new products.
Old shuttle loom. The slow weaving process has a specifing feeling to it.
ー During that time, there were also some machines imported from abroad that had manuals only in a foreign language. Everyone at the factory had to learn how to use them through trial and error.
I felt the essence of their mastery in the skills that they learnt over the years and passed to the next generation of workers. Kurashiki Hanpu, the company that has welcomed us this time,has been making fabric as a familly business for four generations. I think even their history shows that they are a top-notch fabric brand. Additionally, no one manufactures these looms anymore. It's remarkable that they keep the old parts and they are repairing the looms themselves. By the way, my favorite car, the Defender, is also old, and I need to order parts from abroad to perform maintenance. I drive it very carefully. So I could say I understand how they feel (laugh).
Fabric sample book from the 1930s. It is carefully stored in one of the rooms in the factory.
ー Did this trip change anything in the way you view Nychair X now?
Definitely yes. My interest in Nychair X increasingly grew. When I am learning about a particular brand, I look to see if they are thinking about their customers and if they are offering them a high-quality product. Here I have learned that the Kurashiki Hanpu's seat fabric, which makes the main body of Nychair X, has to undergo many processes before it's finished, but most importantly, I have learned that a lot of thought (about usability and seating comfort) goes into the designing of Nychair X.
ー By the way, when did you first encounter Nychair X? What made you drawn to it?
I remember that many years ago I heard about Nychair X from my friend. The memory came back to me recently, when I saw an Instagram post about Nychair X. I really liked the minimalistic design and the foldability, so the chair can be moved away when you need more space. It embodies what I think makes the Japanese products great - it combines functionality, great comfort and beauty.
A room with replacement parts for the old shuttle looms.
ー Nychair X also regularly comes up on your Instagram account. The styling choices are fresh and interesting, like pairing the chair with sneakers!
It's true. Nychair X looks really good in the photos. It has a timeless beauty, which will not feel out of style with changing trends. It would go well with any interior, whether it is like my house - filled with the pieces that I liked, or a curated minimalistic and simple space.
It is quite difficult to find cool chairs at a affordable price point on the market. Sometimes I browse vintage pieces, but they can be quite expensive or very delicate and easy to break. You can always buy a chair from an expensive brand, but what is great about Nychair X is that you can feel the connection that it's "unique to you".
ー What prompted you to document the making of Nychair X?
I highly value that I can share the things I like with my community on social media. One thing I want to convey in particular, is "buy less, but better". I want my community to realize that they are responsible for their purchases as individual consumers. With this responsibility, it is necessary to understand the process of making things first. From this point of view, I wholeheartedly wanted to introduce them to Nychair X. It was a first and important step that I was able to visit the Kurashiki Hanpu factory here in Okayama.
ー You are often posting with a hashtag #whatwewear to show cool and unique outfits. What is the process leading up to finding these items?
I am constantly on the lookout for sources of inspiration. I usually discover new things online. This is my natural curiosity showing, and a part of my creating process. There are no divisions between fashion, design and art, I am interested in them all.
(to be continued in future updates)