Friday, October 25

Interview with {Naoko Kozaka of CO -}

Hello friends,

How have you been? I am happy to bring you back my {Interview with series} and introduce you the gorgeous shop of my friend Naoko Kozaka, owner and founder of CO -. Naoko-san is passionate about vintage buttons and antiques collectables, and her shop located in the heart of Tokyo is a little gem. We met at the last Handmade Marché in Shinjuku and I visited CO - shortly after to check out the AIKEN DRUM exhibition that Naoko-san was holding at the shop. 
Let's find out how it all started!

Naoko-san, please tell me a bit about your background...
I was born in Aichi and grew up in Chiba city, Japan. I have been dreaming to go to England ever since I was a junior high school student. So when I became a college student and I had the opportunity to go to London, I jumped on it and stayed there for a month.

I was amazed at everything I saw there. I stayed with an English family, whose house was a victorian semi-detached with a beautiful small garden.  I loved this old house and all the things the family had  inherited from their family. This place was just 10 min away from Camden Passage where an antique market is held every Wednesday and Saturday. I enjoyed so much seeing antique and vintage pieces  at this market! That is when I started buying some for myself.

Would you say that your travels or studies have had an influence in your decision to run a creative business and be an entrepreneur?
My trip to London influenced me a lot. After that I spent my summer vacation in London twice. Then in 1997, at 24, I went to England again and stayed for a year. Right after coming back to Japan, I started to sell English antique things at markets. It was far from running a business, much more like a hobby.

What is the story behind your love/ interest for antique & vintage buttons? 
In 2002, I bought an old oxo tin at a market in London. When I opened the tin, I found a few buttons in it. A few days later, as I was walking in London, a stranger came to me in the middle of the street and handed me something saying: "I will give you this". I was puzzled as I didn't expect a stranger to give me anything on the street!

She put a small thing in my hand and left.

It was 4 buttons.

I put them in my pocket, thinking "I know these buttons"...

Then I realized! The buttons that the lady gave me were exactly the same as the buttons in the old tin!

They were victorian shoe buttons, exactly the same material and color. 

I had now seven buttons. 

From that day on, I've never stopped looking for old buttons, they are so interesting! 

Do you consider you current job to be your dream job?
I feel it's my mission to introduce antique and vintage buttons, including their history and design, to Japan!

Your shop is super cute. How did you pick up its location and by the way, when did you open it? Did you design and build the shop all by yourself?
We opened the shop in Bakurocho [ECS: learn more about it here] in the heart of Tokyo in 2010 as we thought this area is quite interesting - until then we had been selling items on the web, at markets and exhibitions.
Old things and new things are well mixed.  People living in this area called "Edokko" think a great deal of Japanese historical things such as Omatsuri etc... but they also accept new things. I love this area!

Where are you finding the buttons and how do you select them? Did you have to "study" the "history" of buttons? How do you select the buttons that you will sell in Tokyo?
There are specialized book written in England and the U.S and I read almost all publication and learnt about the history of buttons and how to identify their origin and the date etc...
But seeing and touching thousands of antique buttons taught me a lot!

I travel in Europe and in the U.S about twice a year to find buttons. I believe a button can be an art piece by itself, but it maybe one button will have a special meaning to you only. Buttons may be very small, but they hold some power to influence you and what you create. When I shop for buttons, I wonder if they can nurture our inspiration or imagination. If not, I won't purchase them.

I really enjoyed your collaboration with Aiken Drum and the exhibition that you held at CO-. Are you often working on this kind of projects with other artists?
We hold artist exhibition on an irregular base. We like to introduce artists that we love! I am very happy to collaborate with respectable artists in my shop.

Our current exhibition is:

from 10.25(fri) until 11.4(mon)     (10.27 is closed during exhibition)

【FLANGER】is the clothing label run by Maki (who is also a musician) . She makes "POP" and "Dreamy" hand-made clothing using her own collages to refashion existing clothes.
She is known as a designer making stage outfits for musician such as Cornelius, Buffalo Daughter, Bonobos and Kiiiiiii.

© All photographs by Marie Maglaque

Thank you Naoko-san for accepting my offer and share your story with the world! I am looking forward to learning more about vintage buttons, and maybe start creating something with the beautiful ones you have picked!

Friends, if you happen to visit Tokyo soon, why not include a visit of the area around Bakurocho station and drop by CO -? You will not be disappointed *smile*

CO - Facebook/ Twitter
【住所】東京都千代田区東神田1-8-11 1F(地図) 
Access map


lulla said...

cette boutique est un vrai tresor!! merci Marie et merci CO ** :-D

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