Creative shoes design of Masaya Kushino

OAO's first product, "THE CURVE 1".

Through futuristic design and a production process which utilizes the latest technology, this model pays respect to Zaha Hadid, the female architect who attracted attention from all angles.

The design and product philosophy sets it apart from existing sneakers made for sports.

The man responsible for the design is shoe designer Masaya Kushino, a rising star.

This time, we interviewed him about his background as a shoe designer, his thoughts on the design of THE CURVE 1, and his current activities.


Masaya Kushino

Masaya Kushino was born in Innoshima Island, Hiroshima Prefecture.

He graduated from the Kyoto Institute of Design and achieved his Diploma for Fashion Design Mastery at the “Istituto MARANGONI” in Milano, Italy. Upon returning to Japan, he was awarded the grand prize in “JILA LEATHER GOODS AWARD 2007”. Inspired by nature, Kushino combines Traditional and Cutting edge technology to produce shoes with the theme “final design”. He is currently focused on integrating art with science, such as biotechnology. His artworks are preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum, England, and the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York.


Background as a Designer and turningpoint


Q.Why did you decide on becoming a designer?

I was born on Innoshima, a small island floating in the Seto Inland Sea. Influenced by my grandfather, I grew up creating many things.

My interest in fashion began in my latter years of elementary school, when I became disturbed by the fact that everyone around me was wearing similar clothing, and I felt the urge to wear different clothing.

In the beginnning, I was content with just wearing different clothes, but when I was in high school, I learned of the existence of Martin Margiela from a shop staff. There was a completely different world that I didn’t know existed, and it was then that I became interested in creating clothes, and decided to become a designer.


Q. When did you start designing shoes?

After returning from Italy, I applied for various fashion contests, but I couldn't produce results. I was thinking of getting a job to study, and the last contest I applied for was the “Japan Leather Award”. The contest was divided into several genres and I chose the shoes category, of which I had always been interested in.


Although there were many twists and turns, I was awarded the grand prix, and so I asked the judge, designer Yasuhiro Mihara, that I wanted to work under him. He rejected me and said `` There is no need for a designer to study under another designer”, which strengthened my resolve to work alone. This contest was the turning point where I began desigining shoes.


Q. What are your thoughts on originality, identity, and personal values?

I value the environment in which I grew up. It's something only I have, and it has an immense effect on identity and originality.


Nature, or more specifically, the mountains and seas which were common when I was growing up, have provided me inspiration. My family gave me tremendous love and support. All of these elements mix together to form my current self.

“Design” as a Job

Q.Q. What is Design to you?

Unlike projects, you don’t stick to your ideals. Design is the process of thinking about the user, and enriching their lives.


Q. What do you value when designing and getting inspiration?

I constantly try to absorb information of various genres. Of the information that I gather, I stock information that interests me, and I combine them according to the theme. 

Unpredictable combinations, and collaborations that transcend time and genre, are my unique qualities.


Q.Q. What excites and gives you joy as a designer?

It is impossible to create alone. Creations are completed through the involvement and cooperation of multiple people. So, I become excited and feel joy when I meet and work with interesting people. It becomes even better when we’re able to leave results atop of that.


Q. Q. Why did you become involved in the design of OAO?

It began when I was introduced by a friend. The fact that two people not from the Fashion industry were trying to start a brand piqued my interest. When I actually met them, I discovered that they were seriously trying to create something with great passion, and I felt that I wanted to work with them.


Q. Q.Were there any new learnings or thoughts when creating a Lifestyle sneaker?

I usually design leather shoes, but since I’ve always wanted to design sneakers, it was enjoyable.

Thinking and sharing images with the two from OAO was a new experience, and I was able to attain new insight and perspectives about Tokyo.

Also, they (the founding members of OAO) were very flexible, and it was interesting to see how they constantly evolved from the first concept.


Q. Q. Why did you focus on ZAHA, and what do you want to convey through THE CURVE 1?

In order to expand the image of Tokyo the 2 from OAO had, I felt that we needed a foreign perspective.


Which is why I remembered the “Zaha Hadid’s vision of future Tokyo”


The National Stadium she proposed was an innovative, dynamic, and mesmerizing piece of architecture. In her presentation, she spoke about how the stadium was inspired by Japanese traditions and modern cultures, and how traditional craftsmanship, technological innovations, and a future backed by the past will give birth to a new spirit in Japan. I’m not an architect, so I won’t pretend that I understood everything, but I believe I understood the messages and ideals she wanted to convey, and that made me decide to choose it as the theme of this sneaker.


Since the building was never realized, I focused on portraying as much of the essence through the sneaker.


Now and the future

Q. Q. What projects are you currently focused on, and what themes are you interested in?

The fashion industry is currently learning about environmental issues and evolving. My ways of thinking have also been renewed, and it has led me to projects such as fiber which improves the environment, and the creation of the skin of fictional animals.


Q. Q. What are the prospects and ambitions of the designer Shiya Kushino

I’m hoping that the environment improving fiber, and fictional animal skin projects will progress. If completed, I believe it will bring immense impact to society, and I will be focusing my resources for widespread, and everyday use of it.


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