Kotone Utsunomiya

“When I designed the baubles in the “Story of Flowers” collection, I wanted to give life to the textile print with that I designed for Svenskt Tenn in 2018. The colour palette is inspired by Josef Frank's textiles “Rox & Fix” “Tehran” and “Mirakel” – prints that radiate a powerful energy. In several of his motifs, I feel that the plants appear to be in conversation with one another, and I fantasise about each flower’s unique history.”

Kotone Utsunomiya is a Japanese artist, illustrator and picture book writer specialized in handmade techniques such as lithography, colour pencil and batik work. She collaborated with Svenskt Tenn for the first time in 2018, when she was part of the exhibition Ten Textile Talents on Strandvägen 5 in Stockholm.

The story of flowers

Back then, she created the “Story of Flowers” pattern as an homage to Josef Frank “Mirakel” (Miracle) print. Now, for Christmas 2021, the flowers from the motif have been transformed into baubles for the Christmas tree. Here, Kotone talks about the inspiration behind her art and the spirited illustrations.

“I have such great respect for children's way of drawing, because their illustrations are always completely free.”

“As a child, I did not pay attention to what illustration style I had, I just drew because I liked it. But as I got older, I began to think more about how each illustration could be improved. So the illustrations were not as pure as they used to be. I have such great respect for children's way of drawing, because their illustrations are always completely free.”

  • Kotone’s original sketches of the baubles in the collection “Story of Flowers”.

    Kotone’s original sketches of the baubles in the collection “Story of Flowers”.

  • Kotone’s original sketches of the baubles in the collection “Story of Flowers”.

    Kotone’s original sketches of the baubles in the collection “Story of Flowers”.

  • Kotone’s original sketches of the baubles in the collection “Story of Flowers”.

    Kotone’s original sketches of the baubles in the collection “Story of Flowers”.

“For me, art is the proof of human existence. Because only humans can create art, and even if the artist dies, the artwork can stay around for much longer.”

“Art has been incredibly important to me during the corona pandemic. I came to Prague to study, but the school closed and remained closed for a long time. And at the same time, all stores closed, and I was affected both financially and emotionally. I lost almost everything during this period, but I still had art by my side. On empty days I could always sit and draw. I recently created a picture book for children, while I also designed the Christmas baubles for Svenskt Tenn. It became my way to escape everyday life.”

“For me, art is the proof of human existence. Because only humans can create art, and even if the artist dies, the artwork can stay around for much longer. This is how we can learn about people who lived in ancient eras, a long time ago. How they spent their time and what they experienced – what was the most important thing for them in that era. In this way, art stretches beyond time.”

Kotone Utsunomiya

“To walk around the city of Prague is like walking around in a museum. I find so much inspiration. For example, many building are colourful, and there are decorative features on the façades. And there are also many beautiful parks here. I walk around with my sketchbook and draw interesting flowers and plants. Sometimes, it feels like the flowers have their own universe. Many details are repeated in both petals and leaves, and this is something that inspires me in my pattern design.”

“I love colours because I feel like colours gives us emotions.”

“I love colours because I feel like colours gives us emotions. When I feel sad, I wouldn’t choose a colourful dress. But if I wear the dress then maybe it will make me a little bit happier. So that is why I really believe that colour is power.”

“The different faces reflect both me and the artist who painted them.”

“There are different faces painted on each Christmas bauble, so there is only one in the world of each bauble. This is especially evident in the motif with several tiny faces, they are so adorable. And it is so interesting because I can see the personality of the person who painted the motif on the bauble based on my original sketch. The different faces reflect both me and the artist who painted them.”

“When I start to make an illustration or artwork, I don’t always know how the finished work will end up. So, I am also curious in what is going to happen during the process and how it will look like when it is finished. When I get the feeling that I cannot draw anymore, I just decide that it’s finished.”

“It really feels surprising that in a country so far from Japan, people will hang my designs in their Christmas tree. I am so curious about how they will use them to decorate.”