This illustrated talk by Leren Li will explore boro (ぼろ), the traditional Japanese practice of reworking and repairing textiles, as a revived cultural phenomenon. Boro started in Japan but in recent times has been redefined by other cultures. Leren Li will delve into the different layers of value and meaning embedded in boro as a result of its production, design, collection and exhibition, and how and why, in modern times, people have begun to appreciate boro within different cultural, spatial and social contexts.
Whether you are a boro enthusiast or a lover of fashion history you will find in this talk a unique perspective on this ancient practice. This talk questions the existing research documenting boro’s origins and reveals the forces at play behind the transformation of boro from folk craft to its presence in contemporary art, design and fashion.
Leren Li is a London-based design historian and researcher. She is a Lecturer of History of British Fashion at New York University London campus and is the International Programme Lead at the China Design Museum (Hangzhou, China). Leren wrote her PhD thesis on boro as part of the V&A/RCA History of Design Programme after extensive research in Japan, during which she met boro practitioners and collectors. Both her research and artistic practice explore fragility, damage and mending in textiles and everyday objects.
Photograph by Leren Li, a piece of boro collected by Okuno Ryuichi