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Posted by Kim Winter, Monday 16th November, 2015

Eley Kishimoto to be Brixton Windmill's creative ambassador for 2016

Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto

Brixton Windmill will celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2016, and were planning lots of events throughout the year to mark the occasion.

So were delighted to welcome the Brixton-based fashion and design company Eley Kishimoto on board as our creative ambassador for 2016.Based in Brixton since the early 1990s, husband and wife duo Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto are known for their vibrant, sparky print designs, which have been used by Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Alber Elbaz and Jil Sander, among others. Their current ranges of fabrics and wallpapers are all produced by hand, and they played a leading part in organising the Brixton Design Trail in September 2015.

We caught up with them in their studio, which has a view of Brixton Windmill, to talk about their role as our creative ambassador for 2016.

Why did you want to become involved with Brixton Windmill?

Mark: It feels very holistic we live next door to it and its like an objet dart that we can just look at and admire. But it works on so many different levels creative, social, cultural, educational, heritage with all the activities going on. And it draws so many different people together who would otherwise never have met - it obliterates differences in class and background. Its not like Pop Brixton or Brixton Village, which are more commercial. What we need in society now is embodied in this building.

Wakako: Weve been based in Brixton since the early nineties. We were so involved in business abroad, travelling all the time, that we didnt really get involved with anything local. But recently weve made our workload more manageable so we have more time and space to enjoy our surroundings and interact more locally.

What did you know about the windmill before?

Mark: We knew it existed but never ventured inside. We saw it being refurbished, but visiting just wasnt on our radar. We just saw it as an icon of Brixton. When we met the Friends, we were made to feel so welcome, and were really excited to be working on this project.

How are you planning to use your role as creative ambassador in the bicentenary year?

Mark: Were arriving just as the HLF money runs out, so its a great challenge which we like. We want to use the windmill as a conduit to spread the word about why it exists. So many people, even in Brixton, dont know about the windmill. We want to embrace and support all the ideas and activities you already have planned for the windmill, but also to add to them. We want to draw in a different demographic, not just locally but internationally, through the media, to increase the status of the windmill in Brixton and beyond. Its socially embedded in the area already, from teaching kids about science, maths and domestic science to benefit nights in the pub and football and support from the local estate. Wed like to draw people up the hill who would never normally come, by making a creative statement like a design installation linked to an architecture or design festival.

But were not making a distinction between high and low design we want the whole community to be included in this. Wed like to leave some kind of media legacy for people to remember.

On a personal level, this will embed us further in the local community. And I would like to train to become a miller and a guide myself, and take an active part in helping to develop the flour milling as a business, making Brixton Windmill financially sustainable.

Big thanks to Mark and Wakako for taking on this role were looking forward to working with them to celebrate 200 years of Brixton Windmill!