Mamimu is the brainchild of Japanese graphic designer June Mineyama-Smithson, whose optimistic outlook on life is translated into cheery and eclectic designs.
Inspiration from Japanese Kimono Philosophy
The idea for Mamimu came to June’s mind a while ago in London. Spending time in a foreign land, it was nostalgia and a longing for home which propelled her to create something that touched her roots and also brought her joy.
From hemp leaves to fish scales, kimono artisan saw beauty in everyday life then distilled them into iconic patterns
During her research, the graphic designer tapped into her Japanese heritage, and more specifically the work of 18th century traditional kimono craftsmen. She was impressed by the work of these artist, who found inspiration in day-to-day life, such as the natural beauty of fish scales, flora and tortoise shells, and later distilled and developed them into iconic patterns.
Beauty can be discovered in ordinary places
“I am an ardent believer that inspiration and moments of happiness is found everywhere, and that beauty can be discovered in the most ordinary of places. Growing up in Tokyo in the late 70s was a time full of groovy patterns. So I saw textures everywhere – my rice bowl, TV commercials and even my mother’s blouse. So patterns continually and profoundly influence the way I see the world,” June says.
June's childhood in Tokyo was filled with quirky patterns
She channeled this optimistic view of the world, one which is full of ideas, into Mamimu’s first tote bag collection. Observing her natural surroundings, she studied different elements of design in cities, such as signage and pedestrian crossings, before being drawn to the textures of manhole covers.
She examined their varying textures and motifs, before developing and incorporating them into a design-conscious and contemporary product that is tailored for the global nomads of postmodern society. This creative process has resulted in a capsule collection of quirky bags that are also representative of the cities they are named after.
Mamimu creates cheery and eclectic patterns by transplanting the 18th century Kimono philosophy into 21st century urban landscape
The Spirit of Omotenashi
Keeping with its Japanese roots, all our products are developed with the spirit of Omotenashi – the Japanese word for “wholehearted hospitality”. In Japan, this spirit is typically found in Ryokan, traditional inns, where the staff pays close attention to the finest details in order to make the customer happy and often anticipates their needs.
At Mamimu, we apply this spirit to our quality control and customer service by identifying the pain points in modern life and meeting the needs of the urban nomad.
The spirit of Omotenashi is expressed in Mamimu's design and functionalities.
We chose fabric that is durable and light-weight so that you can carry a laptop and all the daily essential at ease. It's also rain-proof to survive the rainy season in Tokyo or a wet winter in London. The laptop compartment has a concealment flap for added security. And the colourful lining not only cheers your mood but helps finding things inside easily.
We also recognise that you don't want to compromise your style even for business use. This is why we screenprinted city-inspired contemporary graphic patterns on the front face and simple colour blocking design on the reverse, instantly brighten your look.
Mamimu was founded by award-winning Japanese graphic designer June Mineyama-Smithson. Born and bred in Tokyo, she relocated to London to study graphic design at London College of Communication and went on to work for some of the world’s leading branding agencies. It was during this time that the idea for Mamimu came to June’s mind.
Believing in the optimistic idea that inspiration can be found everywhere, even in the most ordinary of places, she continues to create witty and contemporary designs inspired by the urban mundane landscape.
She advocates this idea and gave talks at SheSays London and Pecha Kucha Night Hong Kong. As an artist, June exhibited at Cow Festival Niseko, Japan (picture below), the largest public art event in the world.
The name Mamimu is derived from the basic building blocks of the Japanese alphabet. It reflects the same creative process that goes into the brand’s designs, where inspirations are similarly distilled to their essential core.