The brilliant and breathtaking Japanese designer Issey Miaki wrote a NY Times editorial yesterday about living through the Hiroshima atomic bomb – something that, until know, nobody had ever known. “When I close my eyes,” he wrote, “I still see things no one should ever experience: a bright red light, the black cloud soon after, people running in every direction trying desperately to escape — I remember it all. Within three years, my mother died from radiation exposure.
I have never chosen to share my memories or thoughts of that day… I tried never to be defined by my past. I did not want to be labeled ‘the designer who survived the atomic bomb,’ and therefore I have always avoided questions about Hiroshima. They made me uncomfortable.” While he may have tried to escape his childhood experience, I’m not sure it worked. Looking over some of his iconic pieces now, I see them all as metaphors for war and the nuclear age: explosions, reactors, melting, battle armor, and birth defects.