Inspired by the way Tokyo's cars were coincidentally parked in colour-co-ordinated spaces, Alice Ishiguro Tosey decided to explore whether there was indeed a link between these serendipitous sightings. While based in Japan, she underwent a personal journey of discovery connected to exploring this trend, which resulted in the culmination and release of the photobook, Camouflaged Cars of Tokyo.
Not everyone finds coincidental cohesion while travelling, but artist Alice Ishiguro Tosey was an exception to the rule while based in Tokyo, Japan. What began as an initial observation of cars seemingly parked in colourfully-corresponding environments soon led to an obsession to verify whether this was, in fact, intentional or coincidental behaviour.
Tosey had initially captured some pictures of cars parked this way. Still, upon moving to Tokyo, the investigation deepened, and she began to notice more similarities emerging on her daily walks and bike rides.
"The more instances I found, the more I began to question whether these were intentional decisions or chance happenings," she says about the project's birth. "It reflected nicely with my own personal journey of finding a sense of place and identity in this new-found environment."
Her fascination with this subject reflected her own immersion into aspects of Japanese aesthetics and culture – something that's explored throughout the rest of Tosey's design work. The project allowed Tosey to question her curiosity about Japanese culture, leading to her collaboration with people in London and Japan to print and produce the book so that it appealed to audiences in both countries.
The decision to transform this project into book form only came about once Tosey returned to the UK in October last year following the support and advice of her brother Lewis.
"With self-initiated projects, it can be difficult to set a deadline," she admits. "I was fortunate to have been asked to be on a design jury in Tokyo this June, so this gave me a good timeframe to work with in order to complete the book to launch it whilst I was there." Tosey maintained a minimalist design throughout the book – "allowing the photographs to tell the story."
She had over 100 photographs to choose from and whittled the final selection to under 30 images. "The pace of the book is intentionally gentle, with most images isolated on their own spread and quotes dotted throughout for moments of pause," adds Tosey. "The photographs start with neutral settings and gradually move through to more colourful, eclectic ones."
The inclusion of a text narrative – which acted as bookends to the photographs and was translated into both Japanese and English – allowed for a guided read and shared intention for a clearer understanding of the project.
Printed on deep grey paper stock known as Woodstock Nero, which contrasted with the white stock called Tatami to mount the photographs, the book was bound on the right as a nod to typical Japanese style. These small design tweaks evoked both cultures without distracting them from the project itself.
Of her time spent observing and photographing camouflaged cars, Tosey says: One thing I love about Japan is how often things feel beautifully considered. There is a strong sense of care, craft and harmony, so I feel it naturally evolves in the environment and community. It was interesting speaking to people at the launch in Tokyo. Many commented on how they've never noticed these Camouflaged Cars before or that they had a green car and a greenhouse when they were younger and wondered if their parents made the decision intentionally."