In conversation with...pLAtOy's Akira Ishiwatari

A while ago an optician friend of mine told me he had found this REALLY niche eyewear brand on Facebook; he was on a mission to find some interesting frames, probably out of boredom or just bored of so many copy-cat eyewear collections and he succeeded!

This unique brand my friend was so excited about is called pLAtOy and the person behind it Akira Ishiwatari. If you have a look at Akira’s website you will quickly appreciate how unique his glasses shapes are.

Because I like nonconformists (a.k.a. fashion outsiders) I decided to interview Akira to find out what inspires him. This forced-out some translating skills (from Google-translated Japanese into English, ha!) I really didn’t know I had! And my Japanese readers are lucky enough to read the transcript from Akira’s emails below, enjoy!

Tell me a bit about you and your design background, where you live, what you like to do on weekends and what you do for a living?


I moved from Tokyo to Chiba 20 years ago. Chiba is a rural town and very relaxing to live in.
I walk around the neighbourhood on weekends, and I enjoy taking photos of animals and plants or rows of houses. I find photos very evocative, and I find a lot of design connections in them.

When did you decide to design eyewear?


I have been working in the sunglasses industry for 30 years.

What is the meaning of your brand-name, pLAtOy?

Play Plastic Toy ... pLAtOy. 幼少の頃初めてオモチャを買って貰った嬉しさ気持ちを表現した
今期ROCKETS by Akira Ishiwatariという新ブランドが動きだしますので期待して下さい。

Play Plastic Toy=pLAtOy. The name comes from the feeling of joy when you buy a new toy, it's a childhood expression. I want to convey the same feeling when someone picks up one of my glasses for the first time.

I will be launching a new brand called ROCKETS by Akira Ishiwatari soon, watch this spot!

artwork by Akira Ishiwatari

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?


Silhouettes inspire my designs. The shape of an eyebrow, the curves of a knife-blade, or a mountain ridge...

photo by Akira Ishiwatari

Where are your glasses made?


They are handmade in a workshop near the seashore in Chiba, Japan . There, a small number of craftsmen put a lot of time, passion and dedication in making frames by hand, it's like slow food...slow manufactory.
pLAtOy is far from mass production. It's handmade and feels homemade.

Who are or where the biggest influencers in eyewear (people or brands) in Japan?


Hakusan glasses. I bought my first pair 30 years ago.

Do you have someone in mind when designing your collections, or does that come afterwards?


No one in particular.

I like your graphics reminds me a bit of  Japan's 50's graphics (like YusakuKamekura's). Where does your graphic style come from?

Norman Rockwel等の写実的な絵画が好きです。

In Tokyo I lived for years near a US base. This is probably what influenced my style in illustration and design, it's the sum of Japanese and Western culture.
I also like realistic pictures, such as Norman Rockwel.

artwork by Akira Ishiwatari

What inspires you most?

When I look at a picture, for example a mountain or a flower I am inspired by the shape. These days, I am interest in the form and structure of various flowers.

What else would you have done if not eyewear?

Maybe Fashion design.

My favourite pLAtOy tyles are the RIVERGE, GLUM, PEARLY, CUTTER. Tell me where the idea came about for these designs?


CUTTER is inspired by the fragments of a cutter or scalpel's blade. PEARLY expresses the plain beauty of a pearl but not as mere embellishment.

artwork by Akira Ishiwatari

Last question, do you listen to music when you work? if so, what is your favourite?

The moovie  sound track of Ghost World 


Stan Getz&João Gilberto


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