the japanese magazine celebrating creative collaborations
Featuring Juergen Teller and his son, "PARTNERS" is a touching tribute to the relationships that keep on giving.
Feeling the effects of being two years into a long distance relationship with an eight-hour time difference (his photographer girlfriend lives in Berlin, he in Tokyo), Takuhito Kawashima was inspired to start a publication that celebrates connections between creators, the obstacles they overcome, and the brilliant work that's a result of getting them just right. "My father had my mother, John Lennon had Paul McCartney, and Tom had Jerry," goes the editor's letter. "A partner; for providing a reason to live, for creating a masterpiece, for sharing an exciting moment with." The editor-in-chief began to look around to the creatives he admired and surrounded himself with, and asked an awesome selection of them to contribute to PARTNERS; a magazine about how having a bond makes for a much better outcome.
The cover photo is a selfie taken by Juergen Teller of himself and his young son, Ed, smiling from under motorbike helmets. The accompanying feature is a well-curated selection of photographs that make it clear just why he offers so much inspiration to the photographer. There's Ed getting a haircut, Ed at the gym in a Darth Vader tee, Ed mastering a rainbow climbing wall, partnered with holiday snaps on safari.
There are a whole host of other features on creative dream teams including a conversation between popstar Charli XCX and collaborator Noonie Bao about the relationship between singer and songwriter, as well as a look into the three-way partnership behind Cav Empt, with Skate Thing, Toby Feltwell, and Yuka Hishiyama. A series of columns, reviews, and studies on obsessions top off what is a colorful and well-designed landscape magazine in both English and Japanese. Meet the boss below!
Hi Taku! What prompted you to start PARTNERS?
Normally, magazines are made by adults, and that doesn't excite me. It motivated me to start creating magazines with other young people. Having met many skilled writers with distinct perspectives not found in Japanese culture, I decided it was time to create a new type of media with their mind and thoughts.
What can readers expect from the first issue?
It is easier to live and have fun with someone than alone, and they don't have to be a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife... Take this magazine for instance. I spent about six months with Kei Sakawaki, the art director from shoots and interviews. Just as Sakawaki was my partner, when you have someone you can respect and share both good and bad moments to work with, work becomes more interesting. Recently interpersonal relationships are becoming shallower with the internet and social media, but I think I wanted to point out the importance of taking a break from "adding friends" and appreciating each relationship you already have.
How did you get Juergen Teller involved and what is his feature about?
About a year ago, I interviewed Juergen Teller for a magazine called STUDIO VOICE. He told me a heartwarming story about how he came to like pro-wrestling thanks to his son, Ed, and that they were going to see a match and maybe take photos there. He is able to find new themes and continue his work because of Ed. He now has both perspectives, his own and his son's. I felt jealous of the kind of relationship Juergen has with Ed. I also decided that the first project for the first issue of PARTNERS would be something about him and Ed. And we have waited for a pretty long time for the final photos.
What are your three favorite quotes from the issue?
"In a sense, what people end up seeing is only the finished result. It is really important to have someone by your side like a gallery or Fooki, someone who understands the process up until completion when you explain it to them." - by painter, Kei Imazu, in conversation with his boyfriend Fukunaga Daisuke aka Fooki
"I think that our relationship is about permission. That was a big word for Jordan, before intuition became a big word for him. So his work is also about permitting himself to do certain thing." - by artist Joey Frank in conversation with his friend Jordan Wolfson
"Being a musician and a songwriter isn't like going to work. Sometimes we just decide to do nothing that day but get to 11 PM and start writing something for fun." - by singer Charlie XCX in conversation with songwriter Noonie Bao
How will PARTNERS move forwards?
I want to avoid being bound by the frameworks of magazines. I daydream about things like making a space where we can exhibit for an artist that we picked up in the magazine, and sell their pieces. I got a lot of great help from all kinds of people for this magazine, so I want to maintain a healthy relationship with everyone and hope everyone can benefit from their involvement with PARTNERS.
Will the same theme carry across issues?
I want to stick with the themes, "Partner" and "Relationship." But when I say "Partner," I don't just mean person to person. For instance, it can be a biased bond between a person and a thing, or something stereotypical like a car and a woman in a bikini, or a combination of something between objects.
What did you want to achieve with PARTNERS?
The fact that I was able to create a magazine that mixed in not only arts and cultures of Japan, but arts and cultures of other countries. Many Japanese people feel insecure towards things from the West, so they tend to look at it with bias, but here, we introduced things from a flat perspective using our internet-age thinking. As a result, we realized the emotions that occur between people are the same regardless of race.
What was the plan visually?
In terms of design, the art director Kei Sakawaki had made consistency and linked with the magazine theme nicely. We are not sure about what is "Japanese-style design," so he achieved to make it neutral which we can share with a lot of people around the world within the limit of what we can do with printer matter and Adobe application.
You also work for STUDIO VOICE? What other magazines do you write for?
In terms of magazines, I've only been involved with Japanese ones. Currently I am able to work freely as a main contributing editor for STUDIO VOICE, an arts and cultures magazine that is considered to be a bible for creative people in Japan. I also work on magazines like Brutus and Them Magazine. Listening to people's stories is my lifework, so I mainly do interviews.
What advice would you give to people wanting to make their own magazine?
Making a zine alone is fine, but involving many people and transmitting information on and off print is fun, too. I am able to find various values and things I did not even think of before. I want people to realize that magazines are not just for adults or for advertisements. They are things that contain a message.
What makes a good partner?
As Noonie Bao and Charlie XCX said in the interview, it's because we have a thorough understanding of each other's hobbies and passtimes. And having respect and love to accept them is important too.
Finally, who are your all-time favorite partners?
That is a difficult question. But now, I would say Haruki Kanda, who I'm working with on a production company called kontakt which we made a year ago. He gave me the opportunity to tackle the self-published PARTNERS project. I also sit next to him at the office. It's just so much fun thinking about the future of PARTNERS with him.
PARTNERS is stocked at Claire de Rouen in London, Do you read me? in Berlin, Colette in Paris, McNally Jackson in NY, and Gym Standard in San Diego
Text Frankie Dunn