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  • E.P.

People pencil cases

Design art meets useable art. Bruce Lee Torizawa's studio in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto is a cornucopia of patterns, colors, fabrics, images and symbols but no matter how different they might be, they all come in one shape: a standing little person with a zipper at the back and the front where you can store your pencils or whatever else you can fit in. I always feel like a little girl in wonderland when I enter his studio. I first came across Bruce's unique concept a few years ago during my first visit in Kyoto. I loved it and bought a couple of them, one still in my bag 4 years later.

Back then and now, Bruce was happy to share generously his time with me, explaining his philosophy behind the concept which I think stands for his philosophy in life: we are all made equally the same but we are all unique individuals as the rows of lined up People testify. All the same size, height, width but look at that individuality expressed in the fabric, color, images!

Bruce puts an enormous amount of work in producing these adorable little People, from conceiving the concept, drawing many versions, transferring to fabric, and printing to cutting and sawing. I was looking at one with penguins on and Bruce explained he came up with this design when it was very hot and was wishing for some cooler times. They are all uniquely conceived, Bruce lives upstairs in his studio, so he lives and breathes his art.

Some of them are collector's items, others are for those who only see pencil cases. Perhaps that shows how different we are, some see practical use where others see art. I see both and Bruce does too, he believes in art being part of the everyday life, not something posted up in a museum to pay an entrance fee to admire from a distance.

I hope one day to get to see some of his over 4 thousand samples of unique little people produced with much love and attention to detail over the last 30 years. Needless to stay, I stocked up on some new pencil cases!

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