Creative Director, Art Director / クリエイティブ・ディレクター、アート・ディレクター

Interview_Makoto Miura (COLAXO)
Photography_Rob Baker Ashton
Translation_Tamami Suzuki & Maho Nonomura (Interview) Ben Davis (Article)


Bright red and juicy, Italian tomatoes excite our taste buds, while the British Tomato stimulates all five senses, leaving a lasting impression. The latter continues to evolve organically, shifting forms with the transience of water. This is Tomato, the London-based creative unit.

TOMATOの中でもサイモン・テイラーは日本との関わりが深い人物だろう。90年代より世界を圧巻したDJ・プロデューサー集団United Future Organization(以下U.F.O)とのコラボレーションから、ファッションではアーバンリサーチとのパートナーシップで10年に渡りコレクションを発表し続けたWORK NOT WORKまで枚挙に暇がない。

Among Tomato’s members, Simon Taylor may well have some of the deepest links to Japan. From collaborations with United Future Organization (U.F.O), the world-beating DJ and producer unit from the 1990s, to partnering with fashion company Urban Research to launch Work Not Work a decade ago, Taylor's projects are both numerous and diverse in nature.


In the three decades since Tomato was founded, how has Taylor viewed Tokyo and Japan from his base in London? Speaking slowly and with his usual gentle tone, he shared his story.


All of the scenes were the result of our discussions on site


―The first time I saw your work was the project with U.F.O.

はじめて彼らに会ったのは(桑原)茂一が運営するクラブキングのオフィスだったね。矢部(直)に(松浦)俊夫、それにラファエル(・セバーグ)3人全員がスーツに身を包み、まるで自分たちで発明したような独自のスタイルを持っていたことがとても斬新だった。そしてはじめて仕事したのは「Loud Minority」 や「Cosmic Gypsy」といった彼らのヒット曲をまとめた10inchのプロモーション用のスリーブじゃないかな。ロンドンのDJジャイルス・ピーターソンから依頼された仕事で、一般に販売された作品でないにせよ過去の自分のアーカイブと比較しても未だに気に入ってる作品だよ。

I met them at the Club King office, run by Moichi (Kuwahara). It was quite something to see all three of them, (Tadashi) Yabe, Toshio (Matsuura) and Raphael (Sebbag), dressed in suits and with their own unique style. I think that the first time we worked together was the promo sleeve for a 10-inch EP featuring their hit singles, "Loud Minority" and "Cosmic Gypsy". The London-based DJ Gilles Peterson commissioned the job and looking back through my archive, it's still one of my favourite works, even though it wasn’t ever commercially released in that package.

―とりわけU.F.Oの『3rd Perspective』のアートワークは印象的でした

―The artwork for U.F.O's "3rd Perspective" was particularly impressive.



It was a great job to work on and in order to create the kind of adventure you’d see in a spy film, we assembled a large creative team in London. I played the role of art director, Norbert Schoerner was the photographer and his assistant was a 23-year-old TAKAY*, while Adam Howe did the styling. We all worked on how the story would be told, so the idea emerged in no time. We obviously prepared some things in advance, like the location, cars and so on, but all of the scenes, which were like frames from a spy film, were the result of our discussions on site.

*Japanese photographer now based in New York and working with clients including Vogue. He travelled to London for the shoot on the recommendation of U.F.O's Toshio Matsuura


I avoid trying to pre-empt the final design in order to finish quickly


―What other music projects have you been involved with?

イギー・ポップともたくさんのフィルムを作ったし、アンダーワールドに関してはこれまで約80本のミュージックビデオを作ったよ。だから彼らの場合、最近1つのプロジェクトをDVDにまとめたら4時間分くらいの総量になっていた。アンダーワールドのカール(Karl Hyde)とリック(Rick Smith)はTOMATOのメンバーでもあるから、いつもディスカッションを重ね、サウンドイメージを共有する。水のように流動的で、スムーズなコミュケーションを図るからこそ、これだけの数に及ぶ仕事ができている要因だとは思うけれど、僕の仕事の進め方はほかのアーティストやクライアントと向き合う場合でも一緒だね。

I've made lots of films with Iggy Pop, plus around 80 music videos for Underworld. In their case, the last project on DVD ended up being around four hours long. Karl (Hyde) and Rick (Smith) are also part of Tomato, so we're constantly discussing things and sharing sound images. The communication is smooth and it all feels very fluid, which is why we've been able to do so many projects together, but in the end I work the same way as I would with any other artist or client.


―How do you usually approach the design process?


The process itself is quite important. I avoid trying to pre-empt the final design in order to finish quickly. It can often take time, but even if I make discoveries throughout the process, I make an effort to step away and come back the next day. Of course, it’s not uncommon to change direction during these breaks. This approach isn't just used by designers, but film directors, actors and other creative people as well.


You have to consider the extent of your own personal expression


―When it comes to design, what else do you place importance on?


Setting the parameters. Within the parameters is a safe zone, which anyone can understand, but the edges are where you have to consider the extent of your own personal expression. For example, visual language is one such parameter. There are probably people who don't set any parameters. Either way, regardless of whether or not you choose to acknowledge them, they are always there. When you enter a project, you have to think about how to reach the goal. I think that's exciting, no matter how much pressure there is along the way. That's how I do things.


―This year marks Tomato’s 30th anniversary.


It started with a group of six or seven of us in the 1990s, grew into a large company and then gradually returned to its original size. These days there are two of us in the London studio. Others are distributed around the world. As I've said in various interviews, Tomato is a company built on a collaborative framework. That is how we work. What's remained unchanged over the years have been our conversations. Artists and creators tend to speak to each other in abstract ways, they occasionally fight as well, but by speaking on a daily basis, you can rebuild those relationships and assure your friendship. We share an incredibly emotional connection; we're like family.


I felt there was something poetic within those spaces

―ファッションブランドのWORK NOT WORKについても教えてください

―What’s the story behind your fashion brand, Work Not Work?

残念ながらコロナ禍の間に活動を休止することになったけれど、10年間毎年2回のコレクションをほとんど休みことなく発表してきた。それが達成できたのは日本のファッション会社であるアーバンリサーチのおかげだね。彼らとの接点は日本のトップ自転車ブランドであるFUJIを介してアーバンリサーチのバイヤーである村手(謙介)と知り合い、都会の自転車乗りに向けたバッグやアクセサリーの類を作ったんだ。その後社内デザイナーである木内(明博)の協力を得て、20世紀初頭の熟練した職人やアーティストたちの自由な精神に対する興味をもとにWORK NOT WORKをスタートさせた。それから2ヶ月に1回東京に通う生活がはじまり、ウィメンズのラインも立ち上げ、どんどん大きくなっていった。時として意見の不一致もあれば、採用できない技術もあったけれど、それぞれのアイテムが生まれるまでの正確なオペレーションはまるで機械のようでもあったね。サポートしてくれた社長を含め、アーバンリサーチはパートナーとして最高だったよ。

Unfortunately it's been put on hold due to COVID-19, but I've been presenting two collections a year for more or less the last decade. I've been able to do this thanks to the support of Japanese fashion company Urban Research. I connected while working on a bicycle series with Fuji the leading Japanese bicycle brand I met the Urban Research’s buyer (Kensuke) Murate and we made some bags and accessories for city cyclists. After that, I worked with their in-house designer (Akihiro) Kiuchi to launch Work Not Work, a brand based on our fascination with the free spirit of early twentieth-century craftspeople and artists. I started visiting Tokyo every two months, launched a women's line and gradually grew the brand. Sometimes there was a clash of opinions, which meant that we weren't always able to use the desired technology, but the creation of each item was carried out with almost machine-like precision. From the president of Urban Research, who supported us, to everyone involved, they were an amazing partner.

―WORK NOT WORKを通じて日本の職人文化にも触れたのでは?

―Did Work Not Work provide you with an insight into Japanese craftsmanship?


Kiuchi and I would often visit factories in regional Japan, which I would document in video form. Entering a space with rows of looms and steam rising between piles of cotton felt like something straight out of a dream. The craftspeople had an apprentice system of sorts, so it was interesting to see how fathers passed down traditions to their children. I felt there was something poetic within those spaces. Not only the mechanisms and techniques, but the way they incorporated elements of nature. In contrast, England decided to focus on services and finance, so there are far fewer traditional factories than in Japan.


I haven't really felt any major changes


―What's changed for you since the pandemic began?


Actually, I haven't really felt any major changes. I've been going to work at my studio on a daily basis, and have been doing video meetings since before Zoom even existed. It may have been different in the film industry, where they've been unable to assemble large crews, but these days we can make films with more compact teams than ever before. I guess it would be nice to think that the reduction in air travel has reduced the stress on the planet (laughs).


―What are your three wishes? I suppose they haven’t changed since pre-pandemic times either.


Surprise encounters and good communication. Good dinner as well.


I couldn’t agree more.



ロンドンのクリエイティブ集団「TOMATO」の創立メンバー。1990年代より、グラフィックデザインや映像、ファッション、建築などその活動内容は多岐に渡り、これまでのクライアントリストにはBBCにInternational Expo、NikeやLEVI’Sといった企業のみならず、日本でも資生堂やKDDI、ソニーなど錚々たる名前が並ぶ。

Founding member of London-based creative unit Tomato. Since the 1990s Taylor has worked across graphic design, film, fashion, architecture and more, compiling an impressive list of clients including BBC, International Expo, Nike and Levi's, along with Japanese companies such as Shiseido, KDDI and Sony.



ロンドンのクリエイティブ集団「TOMATO」の創立メンバー。1990年代より、グラフィックデザインや映像、ファッション、建築などその活動内容は多岐に渡り、これまでのクライアントリストにはBBCにInternational Expo、NikeやLEVI’Sといった企業のみならず、日本でも資生堂やKDDI、ソニーなど錚々たる名前が並ぶ。

Founding member of London-based creative unit Tomato. Since the 1990s Taylor has worked across graphic design, film, fashion, architecture and more, compiling an impressive list of clients including BBC, International Expo, Nike and Levi's, along with Japanese companies such as Shiseido, KDDI and Sony.