September 21, 2022

Who Is Hayato?

Nick Matthies

Nick Matthies is a Content Manager at StockX.

Hayato Arai and his eponymous brand have released a pair of Pratone-inspired pants exclusive to DropX. We caught up with the New York-based designer to chat about his brand and the Art & Residence x Hayato Cotton-Canvas Pant.

Hayato Arai and his eponymous brand have released a pair of Pratone-inspired pants exclusive to DropX. We caught up with the New York-based designer to chat about his brand and the Art & Residence x Hayato Cotton-Canvas Pant.

This article is part 16 of 16 in the series: Art & Residence

Daniel Arsham’s Art & Residence program with StockX has been ongoing since June. In that time, the residency has served as a platform for artists and designers tapped by Arsham himself like Peter Mabeo, Rhee Studio, and Pink Essay. The residency’s most recent participant is Hayato Arai, a Japanese American who’s worked as a designer for some of the biggest names in New York’s apparel and fashion scene. Hayato recently started his own brand, which shares his first name Hayato, which translates historically and culturally significant furniture pieces into apparel. Born in the United States to Japanese parents, Hayato Arai, who moved him back to Japan as a child. After growing up for most of his life in Japan, he moved to the Czech Republic and then attended design school in Montreal, Canada. He now lives in New York City, where he runs his own label and works with other brands.

“It started with my grandma,” said Arai about his appreciation for furniture, “She used to have the Cesca Chair at her crib.” The Cesca Chair has, so far, been the inspiration for Hayato’s most popular pieces, the Cesca Jacket and Pants. “When I started getting into furniture, that’s something that I was reminded of first. It reminded me of when I was a kid and I just love the aesthetic of how it looks.” He’s taken that spirit, the energy he finds in furniture that excites him, and translated it into a number of different pieces. 

The apparel released by Hayato draws on furniture pieces that are significant to Arai. As a designer, he believes that “when you design something, you have to add something, but you also get to remove something.” For him, finding the balance between addition and subtraction is his sweet spot. He finds an inspiring design and then tries to translate that from a physical object, most often furniture, into apparel. If you have the reference point to his pieces in mind, it’s relatively easy to see how he’s translating that chair into a pair of pants or a jacket. “There’s a lot of chairs I like. But I can’t take every piece and put it into pants or a jacket,” he admits.

For the piece he designed as a part of the Art & Residence program, Arai selected Gufram’s Pratone Chair as a reference. Designed in 1971, the Pratone Chair delivers a playful bright green design that features long green stalks that give off the look of blades of grass and is sat in by sinking into and on top of the stalks. Its unquestionable ties to the radical design movement of the 1970s has made it an icon of the anti-design cultural movement going on at the time. 

Arai’s Pratone-inspired pants draw on the iconic chair’s grass-like design, and feature a graphic representation of the chair rising up from the bottom of each leg. When asked why he chose to deliver a design centered around the Pratone Chair, he answered with a story not unlike that of the Cesca Chair his grandma owned. “For the Pratone chair, I remember that Nigo had this chair. This chair is a huge chair, it makes you feel like a kid. You feel like this chair should be in a playground,” he said, “There’s a video where he just dives into the chair and he’s just hanging around. I was like “oh, that’s so cool.”

Arai’s emphasis on fun and play is something that permeates the entirety of his brand. “I want to present what I’m feeling. I want to be a kid always. Furniture and apparel makes your life fun and happy. So that’s something I want to create, and my brand is just the platform,” he said. “When you live naturally, in your daily lifestyle, it’s furniture that surrounds you. When I think about furniture, I find that it’s something that makes me comfortable and happy. And I find that the connection between fashion and furniture, it’s something that’s always around you. Those two things are made for the human lifestyle.” 

The Art & Residence x Hayato Cotton-Canvas Pant are available exclusively on StockX as a part of Daniel Arsham’s Art & Residence program and can be purchased here.