Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Floral design is a living art. It changes with the times. In recent years, an array of wonderful books has been published on Ikebana, which reflects its evolution.
Through time, Ikebana designers keep discovering new floral materials, and styles. A great place to start is with a groundbreaking title from Shufunotomo/Japan Publications, “Creating Ikebana” is by Akihiro Kasuya of the Ichiyo School. Distributed in the U.S. by Kodansha America, this title focuses on updated ikebana styles that are suited to our modern surroundings and lifestyle. One look at the cover, and you know you’re in for a treat.
You’ll find every imaginable kind of florals in these arrangements, including everything from aloe leaves, snake plant, and caladium to cat tails and ginger lilies. The author is a son of the Ichiyo School co-founder Meikof Kasuya. He is a second headmaster of the Ichiyo School of Ikebana.
In addition to his extensive training in Ikebana beginning as a young man, he also had additional training in the U.S. He travels extensively around the world giving Ikebana demonstrations, and is involved with Ikebana International in which he serves as an advisor. He is known worldwide for his creativity and originality. In Japan, he is director of several groups, including the Ikebana Association and the Japan Ikebana Art Association. He is also director of Teikokoku Kadoin, an Ikebana academy.
This book presents selected works he has created over a period of twenty years. This lushly illustrated volume depicts what he considers to be some representative arrangements. In the introduction, he explains how he felt naturally drawn to Ikebana, what it means to him, and its significance. He includes a very interesting account of how he comes to choose suitable materials, and how he feels a very close association with these. During the creative process, he comes to learn what these have to express. His intimate relationship with the materials is quite revealing.
This is by no means a helter-skelter portfolio that has been thrown together any old way. Rather, he arranged them into chapters according to theme and subject matter. Among these are several chapters on different kinds of containers, such as bamboo, glass, and others. In another chapter, he focuses on the importance of line in arrangements. In addition, he devotes chapters to the role of Ikebana in a home setting and daily life as well as at exhibitions.
For each arrangement, there is a full-color photo and commentary on the container and the materials, and details on the inspiration that prompted its creation.
Some of the arrangements are small and intimate enough for homes. In the chapter on exhibitions, he presents large-scale ones that he has created for public buildings, such as stores, theatre lobbies, and exhibition halls. Among these are some for open-air or outdoor use. Judging from these evocative works, the large-scale ones are much difficult to achieve. They need to catch the eye and speak to the heart. At the same time, the large scale means a lot of materials simply aren’t suitable.
The appendix features a complete biography of the author, including how he began exhibiting at the age of 17.