Ancient and modern collide with kimono-wearing robot

Tokyo exhibition Kimono Roboto features 13 exquisite kimono, one of which is displayed on an animatronic robot designed by Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones

Opening on December 1 and running for ten days in Tokyo’s Omotesando Hills, Kimono Roboto celebrates the tradition of kimono-making by presenting examples from some of Japan’s most-revered makers in an exhibition that also features contributions from Björk and photographers Peter Lindbergh and Koichiro Doi.

Thirteen kimono will be on display in a circular space. At its centre stands an animatronic robot wearing one ‘hero’ kimono. Around the walls of the exhibition, which was conceived by fashion show specialists Bureau Betak with creative direction by Remi Paringaux, are a series of images and films created for the show.

“A circular mise-en-scène reflects kimono’s trajectory from attire for everyday life in the late 16th century, to its status as a living work of art, and its powerful influence on 21st century fashion and popular culture,” says Bureau Betak’s Alexandre de Betak. “A garment so dependent on extraordinary manual craftsmanship, and skills passed down through generations, could seem incongruous with Japan’s reputation as one of the most technologically advanced countries. But in this interactive and dynamic setting, with a gilded robot at its centre, we are asked to reflect on technology’s role in the survival of the ancient and endangered artistry on which kimono depends.
Together these works form a tribute to kimono’s complex past, a blueprint for possible futures, and an important record of its power today.”

The “gilded robot” was designed by by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones with Tom Blake and Gavin Coetzee and built by John Nolan Studio. As well as forming the centrepiece of the exhibition, Du Preez and Thornton Jones also used it for a series of images, advertising and films for the show.


Kimono Roboto billboard ad by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones

Main credits

Photography by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones
Film Installations directed by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones
Exhibition concept by  Bureau Betak/Alexandre de Betak
Creative Director: Remi Paringaux
Original Robot Concept by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones with Tom Blake and Gavin Coetzee
Robot Concept Production and Animatronics: John Nolan Studio
Produced by Campbell Beaton: Immortal Productions
Project Art Buyer: Catherine Mahe
Director of Photography: Daniel Landin
Editor: The Quarry/Owen Oppenheimer
Post Production: Nineteen Twenty/Duncan Horn