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Inspired by the Sea: At Home with an Artist in France

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Inspired by the Sea: At Home with an Artist in France

July 12, 2017

Japanese-born artist Masami Akatsuka attended the Bunka fashion school in Shibuya, Tokyo, before moving to France to study fine arts. But it wasn’t until her two children, Moë and Kai, were born that she gained confidence to start her own children’s clothing and accessories line.

Based in Céret, a small village in the Pyrenees mountains bordering the Mediterranean, Akatsuka works out of her home studio during the day while her children are in school. Akatsuka finds inspiration in the varied geography of Céret: based at the foot of the mountains, the town is surrounded by lakes and waterfalls and is not far from the sea, where she collects natural objects to decorate her home and workspace. Not surprisingly, the area has served as a sanctuary for the likes of Picasso, Soutine, Chagall, Matisse, Miró, and Tàpies; locals call it the “small city of art.”

For the past five of the seven years she’s been living in Céret, Akatsuka has been designing the Cocon Etc. children’s clothing line as well as fabric branches and mobiles. She decorates her home with pebbles, shells, and driftwood that she collects on the beaches, as well as vintage finds. Cocon creations have a wistful and lighthearted side to them, though Akatsuka says, “I have not yet dared to use dark color for my creations, but I feel it now for this coming fall and winter.” Follow her creative directions and inspiration via Cocon and her blog, Cocon Etc.

700 cocon wall and office
Above: For a DIY piece in Doolittle magazine, Akatsuka collected shells, driftwood, and objects from the sea to create a hanging mobile.
700 cocon child at table
Above: Daughter Moë eating tartines in the Cocon Spring/Summer 2011 Lookbook.
700 cocon kitchen parsley
Above: A snapshot of Akatsuka’s kitchen.
700 cocon jade plant
Above: The Jade Plant is made from cotton and linen and filled with wool.
700 cocon table linens
Above: A handmade Fabric Doll, €120 ($137.83), and a cluster of the Nuageux, Parfois la Pluie Cloud Coasters, €15 ($17.23), each.
700 cocon dried chili peppers
Above: Dried chili peppers are threaded for ornamentation and for eating later.
700 cocon bedroom in france
Above: A tribal printed duvet in the otherwise white bedroom.
700 cocon office area and lantern
Above: A canvas vacuum bag hangs over Akatsuka’s worktable. She says of the garbage bag turned mobile, “I like this abnormality, to break up the obvious.”
700 cocon mobile birds
Above: A vintage wood ironing board serves as a display area.
700 work table
Above: Having just renovated her Cocon studio, Akatsuka placed a large white table in the center of the room. She begins work with a completely empty table and slowly fills it with drawings, inspiration images, and notebooks. Here the printed cotton and linen Bird Bag, €40 ($45.94), sits next to the Little Jade Plant, €14 ($16.08).
700 cocon wall storage
Above: Akatsuka’s white-painted studio is also where she photographs children Kai and Moë for Cocon look books. An antique wooden board stores tools and spools of thread.
700 cocon wall display
Above: Akatsuka photographing Cocon handmade fabric doll Jimmy, €120 ($137.83).

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on August 20, 2012.

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