Japanese Fabrics

Interview with Kayo Horaguchi

October 16, 2018

Today’s blog post is a special feature on one of my favorite Japanese illustrators – Kayo Horaguchi. I have blogged a few times about her fabrics and sometime in August, I was given the opportunity to interview Horaguchi-san through email. My written and spoken Japanese is non-existent, even though I can read Japanese sewing instructions rather quickly by now. So I had a lot of help to translate the questions and then translate Horaguchi-san’s answers back to English. Which is why it took so long but it was definitely worth the wait!

Before we begin, I have a few pictures to share with you. I made this outfit originally for a guest post but I realized I never posted them on my own blog! So I believe many of you have never seen these pictures before!

This was a flutter sleeve square necked tunic made using Kayo Horaguchi’s fabric. There is a newer version of this print released this year in 3 different colorways (which you will see at the bottom of this post)


The beautiful border print is shown in this tunic.


The colorful fine details on the bodice.


I had a lot of questions for Horaguchi-san, because I was so curious about her inspirations and how she came about creating such amazing scenes in her illustrations. Without further ado, let’s see what she has to say about her creative process!

Me : Please tell us a little bit more about yourself, especially for our readers who may be seeing your beautiful works for the first time!

Me : What got you interested in becoming a designer?

Horaguchi-san : Since I used to like drawing as a child, I naturally gravitated to work related to illustrations.

Me : Were you formally trained as an artist? How did you get started doing what you do?

Horaguchi-san : I attended a Vocational school for Fashion, majoring in a fashion illustration.
I was mainly painting with acrylic watercolor at that time.

Me : How would you describe your signature style?

Horaguchi-san : My main concept is to draw based on the theme “When you look at it you will feel fun and happy!”

Me : Who / What is your biggest influence in your work as a designer today? (A famous designer/artist or even moments from your childhood)
今日のデザイナーとして最も影響を受けた事/人物は何ですか? (有名なデザイナー/アーティスト、または先生の子供時代の出来事など)

Horaguchi-san : When I was a child, my parents often took me to the Art museum, I think that contact and exposure to a lot of art during my childhood have greatly influenced my work today.
My favorite artist is Yayoi Kusama, and I often take trips within Japan to visit her exhibitions and view her works.

Me : Your collections are an eclectic mix of cityscape, nature, people and animals. Where did you first get the idea to combine them in your designs?
先生のコレクションは、都市景観、自然、人、動物の折衷的な組み合わせです。 最初、どの様に先生のデザインの中でそれらを組み合わせるというアイデアを得ましたか?

Horaguchi-san : I did not plan specifically to create such a combination.
Sometimes the scenes just pop-up in my mind, I just combine my favorite motifs and the it forms automatically.

Me : One of the most striking characteristics in all of your designs is the color palette. I have always been fascinated by how there seems to be so many colors within the same space and yet they look so harmonious together. How do you pick out the colors for each piece and is coloring the illustrations the easiest or hardest part of the process?
先生のデザインで最も印象的な特徴の1つはカラーパレット(色の鮮やかさ)です。 私はいつも同じ空間内に非常に多くの色があるのに魅了されてきましたが、見事に調和しています。

Horaguchi-san : When coloring, I do not choose colors based on any color balance.
I apply color to my art based on my feelings at the point of time while I am drawing.
It is not a particularly difficult task when I am in the right mood.

Me : Can you walk us through your design process – from initial idea, to the finished product?  What does your creative process look like? Can you show us a picture of the initial draft, and the finished product next to it if possible?
最初のアイデアから完成した製品までのデザイン過程を一通り説明していただけますか? 先生の創造的なプロセスはどのようなものですか?

Horaguchi-san : As an example of the illustration work on the cover page of the novel, I first read the original book thoroughly, I will quickly sketch out the rough design of the scene from my impressions of the book and the name of the motif I want to draw with a pencil. (left of photo above)
From there I will capture the rough sketch in the computer and complete the illustration in the computer (right of photo above)
Other than work related projects, I use the same method. To first capture the scene in my mind with a rough sketch before finishing it after that.


Me : Your collection has grown from textiles and apparel fabrics and now to decorative items like stationery, product packaging and household goods. How did that come about?
先生のコレクションは生地から生まれ、現在は文房具、製品パッケージング、日用雑貨などの装飾品にまで広がっています。 どの様にして、ここまでに至ったのかお教えください。

Horaguchi-san : First of all, I started taking part in exhibitions with the hope that more people can see my works.
In 2009, I received a prize of Young Designer Award at the [Interior Lifestyle Tokyo], which is an international trade fair for Tokyo to propose lifestyle concepts to interior design markets from around the world. I was then invited to work with a various manufacturers and that’s how I was able to commercialize my works.
2009年にライフスタイル提案型国際見本市「Interior Lifestyle Tokyo」にて、ヤングデザイナーアワードという賞をいただいたのをきっかけに、いろいろなメーカー様にお声をかけていただき、商品化などが実現化されました。

Me : Your designs are not only used in textiles, but we can see that you have created many collaboration works/items with famous characters and brands. Do you have to design around the limitations of each product packaging restrictions or are you given free reign to create?
先生のデザインは生地だけでなく、有名なキャラクターやブランドを持つ多くのコラボレーション作品やアイテムに使われています。 先生は各製品の制約の中でデザインをデザインしなければなりませんか? それとも、自由にデザインすることができますか?

Horaguchi-san : It varies depending on the contents of the work received.
Sometimes I have to design with a lot of constraints and but sometimes I can design as freely as I like.

Me : What is currently your favourite creative work of yours & why? 


Horaguchi-san : My favorite work (of my own) is [promenade]
I display it in my room and gaze at it everyday. 


My favorite items are animal figurines, it is also my hobby to collect them as well. When I look at them it inspires me to think of various stories and scenes. I take great care of it. 

Me : What do you love most about your work?
Horaguchi-san : Since I really like to draw, it makes me happy that I can have a job doing something I love.

Me : If you didn’t work as a designer what would you be and why?
Horaguchi-san : I have never thought about it. . .but maybe a job related to animals even though I don’t have any talent in it. I might have worked on music related work.

Me : What are your goals for the future?
Horaguchi-san : Keep drawing and painting as long possible.

Me : Can we keep track of your latest works?

Horaguchi-san : Of course you can!
I upload my latest news to my websites and instagram, etc. every time I have a new project released. Please follow me at
Official websitehttp: //www.kayomaru.com/
Instagramhttps: //www.instagram.com/horaguchi_kayo/
公式サイト→http: //www.kayomaru.com/
インスタグラム→https: //www.instagram.com/horaguchi_kayo/


Thank you for reading! I hope you have learned more about Kayo Horaguchi and her works.

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