Throughout my entire life, people who encounter my name without having met me in person just assume that I’m Japanese. When they finally meet me and view the fair skin and auburn hair, they often do a double-take. I confess I actually enjoy this momentary confusion just a bit. It’s kind of a thrill to defy expectations somehow, and I am honored, actually, because it allows me to be even temporarily among a race of people with such an incomparable heritage of design and culture.
My name, Midori (which means “green” in Japanese), comes from a friend of my father’s, from before I was born when he studied landscape design in Kyoto. He continued his own practice throughout my childhood, designing breathtaking Japanese-style gardens in California that remain works of art today. He was able to capture the traditional attention to detail, engaging all the senses with striking visual elements, fragrant blooms, tinkling bamboo water features with hand-carved stone bowls, and contrasts in texture and color. As a child, I was enchanted with them and spent hours with a set of tiny Japanese dolls, creating my own miniature versions of these serenely beautiful and stylized environments for them to inhabit.
With such a background, it’s no wonder that I am still drawn to things today that successfully emulate a traditional Japanese aesthetic, and of course my favorites are fresh and modern (and often not even Japanese design at all). A recent find I’m coveting is from Swedish designer Camilla Wellton, whose entire collection is full of personality and stunning architectural details, and it’s eco-friendly to boot. The Kimonoat has full, kimono-inspired sleeves and a sash like a flattened obi, and it’s available in a wide range of fabrics from old school tweed to fashion-forward anthracite wool lined with hemp/silk. During this unseasonably warm winter weather, I’d never be able to wear it out here, but owning it might just necessitate a trip somewhere chilly and European. A girl can dream.