My Perfect Date with Blake Kuwahara

By: Nicole Wagler

Anyone who knows me, knows that I would describe my perfect date as a day perusing antiques and vintage clothes with great company on my arm and a hot tea latte in my hand. This date was brought to life for me in September when the talented designer Blake Kuwahara took Neil, Troy, myself and some of his friends on a journey through the Marché Vernaison along Rue des Rosiers in Paris. Oui, Oui. That Paris. We chatted about family and design while we looked through vintage jewelry and other bric-à-brac. Blake answered a few offbeat questions, allowing us to peel back a layer and learn a bit more about this creative design powerhouse.

What is your favourite music for…

Designing?

I was just listening to a John Mayer playlist that a friend sent me. Let’s see if [my] Fall 2019 Collection somehow was subliminally influenced by his music.

Cooking?

Honestly, I don’t cook. Ever. Does listening to Ariana Grande while ordering take out count?

You’re well known for your frame line, aptly named after you. What other forms of design are you involved with?

Through my design collective, Focus Group West, I’m involved with my team designing retail spaces, graphic design, and displays (we’ll be debuting our new Blake Kuwahara Eyewear floor display soon!) On the personal front, I love interior design and my homes are my labs!  I have designed a collection of men’s sweaters and would love to someday pursue that, but apparel is a tough business.

Do you draw, paint, or create on a personal level?

I wish I had the talent to do that. Both my mom and grandmother are amazing artists – I wish I had their ability to paint.

What was the best meal you’ve ever had?

I think the single best meal I’ve had was in a “private kitchen” in the countryside outside of Hong Kong near the Chinese border. It was run by a woman who previously owned an ad agency and left that to create this amazing space in an old farmhouse. Her staff were all dressed in black and looked like they should be working in a fashion boutique, but instead were serving us these amazingly delicious yet humble and simple dishes in this very rustic and monastic space lit with nothing but candles. Her signature dish was chicken that was slow roasted in an old brick oven – the skin was perfectly browned and crispy and the meat juicy and tender.

What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to food?

Ice cream. Oh, and cookies. And, pies. Oh and, cake…

What’s your dream car?

1962 Jaguar E-Type. But just to look at. I think it’s one of the most beautiful cars ever designed.

Is there an era that just speaks to you?

As you know, I’m addicted to flea markets. Particularly French flea markets. A friend just recently told me that he thinks I must have lived in Paris during the late 19th Century, the Belle Époque Era, since everything I visually gravitate toward comes from that period.

What is your favourite book?

“Artempo – Where Time Becomes Art.”  It is now out of print, but was published as an exhibition catalogue for Axel Vervoordt’s first curated exhibit of art and its relationship with time: how objects become more beautiful as they age and are time-worn. It encapsulates the essence of my aesthetic, and I break it out often as a source of inspiration.

If you could design a frame for another company, which company would it be?

I’d love to do a collaboration with fashion designer Rick Owens or the Japanese fashion brand, Incarnation. A lot of what I wear comes from these designers so it would be a dream to create a frame for them. They’re both a bit off of the traditional fashion-grid and work in an artisanal way.

If you could have anyone in the world, living or moved on, be the next image for your collection, who would you choose and why?

Tina Chow – the model and jewelry designer. She was to me the epitome of grace, understated elegance and had her own sense of style that, even when viewed today, is fresh and relevant. Sadly, she was an early casualty of AIDS, but her memory and influence live on.

Can you describe the most exhilarating and memorable date you have experienced thus far?

It would have to be my first date with Patrick in Paris more than 3 years ago. We just took a City Bike and road around Paris stopping at parks, cafes and bars along the way. I had been to Paris many times, but it was like seeing the city for the first time through the eyes of a local rather than a tourist. Btw, my date with you is still tops!

Thanks Blake!

A big thank you to Blake for showing us the history of the Parisian antique markets. It truly was my perfect date. Except for the moment when Blake convinced a local vendor that I was a very famous Canadian celebrity. And she asked to take a photo with me. And I obliged. And then I awkwardly walked away. I need to work on my poise. Oh and I never did get my hot tea latte!

Want more Blake Kuwahara?

Insight Eye Care carries a large selection of current Blake Kuwahara eyewear. This collection is one of our top brands. People and Waterloo Region absolutely love the translucent effect and quality feel. If you want to see everything Blake Kuwahara has to offer, head on over to their website!

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