Featured Designer: Dear Plastic

FK chats to Yumi & Taka of creative & inspiring Melbourne based paper label, Dear Plastic!

Tell us about your label Dear Plastic and what the concept is behind it?
Dear Plastic is a collaboration between Yumi and Taka, an artist and designer. We are about creating pieces that reflect our spirit and the work of our hands. We want our work to communicate and create relationships with people. We work mainly with paper. Taka was brought up around paper. Kawanoe in Japan is famous for hand made Washi paper and paper craft. Paper is a very basic material and is part of our daily life. With our work we want to show the beauty of it’s fragility and strength and change the “throw-out” perception of the material.

What are your backgrounds and how did you start working together?
Yumi comes from an Art and Education background. Taka is from an Engineering and Design background. We met in Japan 10 years ago, Yumi is originally from Sydney, so after 4 years in Japan, we moved back to Sydney and recently to Melbourne! We were both always creating things at home. Collaborating together began naturally. Artworks for friends, installations for other small brands and workshops for kids and adults around recycling and making paper from milk cartons. It naturally progressed from there to where we are now!

Which other paper inspired labels do you love? And what inspires you?
We love the concept behind the paper ware designs of Ogata Shinichiro for Wasara. Made from materials like bamboo and sugar cane, the concept was to design beautiful pieces that will one day return to the earth and complete a life cycle. We love the work of artists Tupera Tupera and Miroco Machiko. They hold amazing workshops with paper and up cycled materials. Full of imagination, creative freedom and love for our planet! Australian artist Kirsten Perry’s work is also amazing. Nature and culture are constant inspirations for us. Our current collection was inspired by mountains and termites nests.

What is your creative workspace like, and what inspires you about your surroundings?
We work from home. Our work has slowly taken over our study, living and dining rooms! Like a parasite, paper crystals are slowly taking over our house! We move from room to room depending on what work we are doing. Eventually we hope to have a studio space but for now we are enjoying being surrounded by our work. There is no real distinction between our work and lifestyle. We love that our work and life have become one and are interconnected.

What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it?
With our work, we see the importance of movement. To keep moving forward and not be stuck on an idea, image or concept. Knowing when to move has been a challenge for us! Being confident in our own instincts and not being so influenced by others has helped us along the way. We love the freedom of our work. We are both “night owls”, so flexibility with time is important! We love seeing our ideas develop and come to life. Two minds are always better than one, and it’s so exciting for us to see our collaborations unfold and change shape along the way.

What aspirations do you have for your label in the future?
We are looking at collaborating with a Washi craft artisan. We have previously used paper from Washi craftsman Mr Uda Takeo. He is a 4th generation paper maker and makes his paper in a small shed behind his house in Kawanoe, Japan. We are also interested in using other materials. Textiles and natural dying is something we are interested in. Our future-future plans(!)…well, we would love to work/ collaborate with small craft artisans around the world. Our focus will always be on the beauty of handmade pieces, the visual and cultural dialogue possible through art/ design and the importance of keeping cultural traditions alive + loving our planet along the way!



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