“Iki is the quintessence of seduction – it takes no account of the mediocre certainties of reality, but rather dares to put real life in parentheses, and as, detached, it breathes in that pure, clean air, it indulges in a game all its own”. | Kuki Shūzō, The Structure of Iki, 1930
THE INDEFINABLE CHARM OF IKI
In his brief treatise on iki – a Japanese term which evades translation – Eastern philosopher Kuki Shūzō touches upon every facet of the word’s meaning, finally suggesting that its truest expression is to be found in the indescribable charm of the geisha, whose very gait and gestures, flawless hairstyle and elegant outfits all leave whispers of it in their wake. Its enchanting touch is most strongly felt in the amber-coloured geometric patterns which adorn their robes. Finally, this elusive idea has been given shape in the new edition of Kioku’s range of prints and clothes – a collection which travels around the world in search of creatures whose very being suggests a certain grace.
The ‘wow’ effect is inescapable when, driving along the road that leads to the heart of Yosemite National Park, you are finally faced with El Capitan. Nestled amidst ancient sequoias, this imposing monolith of unyielding stone echoes with ancestral memories. Captured in a detail of its north wall.
At 3000km long, the Stuart Highway cuts Australia in half, though part of the charm of travelling along it lies in the little breaks you take just to stretch your legs in the most remote of its rest areas. In one of these, Banka Banka Station, you are struck by the intense red of the gravel all around you, an exciting preview of the Red Centre that awaits you farther along the road. Red Stones is the literal representation of this striking image.
Deep within Litchfield National Park, near Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory, lies a surreal and hard-to-reach spot where a long succession of rocky outcrops are redolent of the remains of an ancient civilisation: the Lost City. Paleo Rock allows it to live once again in all its deep, age-old colours.
Near the famous Sensō-ji temple in the Asakusa area of Tokyo, lies a hidden Garden Temple, a rare relic of the Edo period. A secret garden made all the more comely by a circular pond whose surface reflects the lush and thriving plant life that surrounds it. Secret Garden is a study of the green geometrical shapes that one can glimpse on the surface of the water.
Around April, in Nara – once the capital of Japan – the avenue in front of the Tōdai-ji temple takes on an intense pink hue. It is gently blanketed by a soft carpet of cherry blossoms, providing a striking contrast with the handsome dark wood of the ancient building. Cherry Blossom is a sensation of the infinite felt when walking along this path, expertly transformed into a design.
Between the herons, eagles, falcons and crocodiles all mirrored on the water’s surface, a carpet of dry leaves colours the lively banks of the South Alligator River in the middle of the Kakadu National Park, a preserve of true wilderness in northern Australia. Iridescent colours and shades spring to life in Dry Leaves.
Taronga Zoo is one of Sydney’s most famous attractions. In the green of its structures, particular attention is dedicated to a family of rare tigers from Sumatra who gave birth to a litter of three cubs in 2019. Clarence is the name of the father, a mighty three-year-old male, as well as that of his hypnotic fur.
Around Lake Ndutu, in the south of the Serengeti in Tanzania, December marks the start of when the wildebeest and the zebras gather in preparation for the largest-scale migration of mammals on the entire planet. A young female cheetah, along with her four cubs, patiently awaits her moment to strike, camouflaged in the labyrinth of colours that surrounds her. In The Huntress, her spotted coat re-emerges through the kaleidoscopic lens of the imagination.
Tarangire National Park has the highest concentration of baobabs in Tanzania. Towering above these mastodonic plants in all their elegance and stature are the Masai giraffes, characterised by their hide adorned with jagged-edged spots. A repeated detail shines the spotlight on their natural beauty.