An Interview with
Arts & Science Founder Sonya Park
“I’m opening a shop, and I’m stocking it only with things I love.”
With that simple statement owner and creative director Sonya Park launched Arts & Science in 2003 on a narrow alleyway in Tokyo’s trendy Daikanyama district. She brought in antique mirrors, chandeliers and showcases she had found in Europe, and filled the shelves with everyday goods from abroad—items that were not yet so familiar to consumers in Japan.
Once in business, Park expanded her offerings. The one-off articles of vintage clothing she carried inspired an original line of apparel. Unhappy with the pajamas and towels available on the market, she had some custom-made, overseeing their design until the texture and comfort of the prototypes were just right.
“Everything we sell is something I personally adore. If the kind of item I have in mind is not out there, we get it made,” she explains. This hands-on, creative stance is reflected in every aspect of Park’s business, which has grown to eight brick-and-mortar shops in Tokyo and four in Kyoto. “Our lives today are overrun with options. But the real luxury is choosing only those designs that trul_eny suit your tastes and style,” she says. The goal of each Arts & Science store is to make that search, whether it’s for clothing, shoes, jewelry, food or other daily items, much easier and far more pleasant.
HIN / Arts & Science, Nijodori Kyoto is the latest shop, specializing in craftworks handmade by select local and international artisans. “No one shoul_end compromise when it comes to personal taste,” Park emphasizes. “We want our customers to go home with products they’ll use for a long time.” With so much around us now centered on ready-made, throwaway things, it’s a win-win approach: craftspeople’s skills are kept alive, and consumers come to know the joy of using well-made items daily, as a matter of course.
Quality over quantity. Each Arts & Science shop is a place where consumers can learn in-depth about the products on display, touching, smelling, and tasting them and hearing firsthand their unique story and that of the person who made it, or where it came from. As more people choose products for their authenticity and the pleasure they bring, it’s a business model Park is sure she’ll be sticking with.