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Social Togetherness: Mentsen

Risa and Yasu of the design studio, Mentsen, examine adapting to life in lockdown from their London home, their creative outlets, future projects and podcast recommendations

Social Togetherness: Mentsen

Mentsen, where’s home for you?

This summer it’ll be 20 years since we both, but separately, moved to London from Japan and we feel very much at home here. We’ve been renting a lovely 1930’s flat in Forest Hill for the last 14 years. With lots of green space in our estate and in the area, we feel lucky in this strange time.

What creative pursuits are you pursuing during this slower-paced period?

Risa is working on her collages and drawings and Yasu is exploring baking more with sourdough which he’s been keeping for 10 years.


Are you learning a new skill, craft or hobby?


We are trying to learn basic Italian with the Duolingo app. We have been going to Italy for more than 15 years, but never learnt their language and have always felt slightly ashamed of not trying at least.


What positive change might come from Covid-19?


There are already some silver linings as the result of this crisis, such as cleaner air and a wider appreciation and awareness of the importance of the key workers. We hope we don’t just go back to how they were when this is over. Also, optimists in us think, maybe the world could adopt a kinder, more cooperative policy and sustainable economic model.

Any interesting projects or exhibitions for later this year?


We worked on an exhibition design for The Maker’s Eye by Crafts Council which we were just finishing installing when London went into lockdown. It will be the first exhibition at their newly renovated gallery, featuring a wide range of works from their amazing collection. We hope they can open soon.

We have designed a two-seater version of Kinoko for Zilio A&C and it was going to be shown in Milan, but we haven’t seen the final sample yet as Italy went into lockdown before we could do a photo shoot.


Any music or podcasts you would recommend?


A friend recommended the Everything is Alive podcast last week; great for taking your mind off the news a bit and wandering off in the imaginary world of objects.

Many thanks Risa and Yasu for taking the time to talk to us.

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