Interview: Japanese novelty publisher Rondade


Please make a brief introduction about Rondade to our Chinese readers first.

Talking from very first of all, Rondade was a form of Music label. What made Rondade to be a publisher was when I found the photographer Go Itami. I asked him if he could shoot the artwork of a CD that Rondade was then about to release, but after getting to know more about his photographs, I started to realize that I wanted to see his photographs in bigger size. So I asked him if he wants to make his first photo book with Rondade, which turned into the unique photo book called “study”. This obviously was a start for Rondade to be a publisher.


Through your official website and facebook page, I realize that Rondade concentrated on music at the very beginning, so why did you start to switch to the publishing career recently?

Since I had a very long career in music industry, I knew there had been a huge transition in the form of “releasing artworks”. I realized I couldn’t see any point to put sound, which, in a way, grow to an unlimited extent, into a simple format “CD" anymore. And also, after publishing “study”, I knew I was apparently obsessed with the feeling- new discovery and joy - that I felt while making the photo book.


There is huge number of publishers in Japan, why do you still have courage to step into the field of publishing? Is the photobook market so that big in Japan?

I have to admit there are tons of publishers in Japan. Photo book in japan has developed and evolved in a very original way compared to other countries because of its particular environment that Japan has. However, I should also admit that the industry, in fact, is getting smaller and smaller. There are also a fewer chance for people who are not in the industry to see the photo books.

When I was talking with people from publishers, I felt that they have this attitude that are very old and they seemed they were trying to get along with the form of "photo book" which has been here for a long time. I would not say they are the one but this obviously is one of the reason that the industry is not growing because they follow the way that has already been here for a quite long time.

So I thought Rondade is now in need to make a photo book that brings us a different experience. To suggest new visions for the photo book industry lead Rondade to activate more, and this also could definitely be an opportunity for us to grow (change).


Among this great number of publishers, how do you position Rondade in Japan? What is Rondade’s direction in the future as a publisher?

People seem to recognize our books very differently from others.  I could often see it when I joined book fairs:  Rondade is totally different from other publishers.

Of course there are good books, but I feel like photo books made by individually without publishers seem to be mrore attractive to me. Rondade is in a middle of a pusher and an individual (we aim to sell it in the industry but we are also similar to those who make books not only to sell it but also to create good stuff not only to bring it to the market).

When making books, I try to make it clear whether it is the one that I really want to work on or not, which really depends on my decision/ feeling (it probably is because Rondade is run only by my own).

What can be a different for our activity in the future is to keep making changes in the relationship between creators and audiences step by step.


There are four photobooks produced by Rondade in our library, A Sculpture is A Sculpture and Ceremony, Substance, and two by 伊丹豪, I find there are quite a few work showing a sense of geometric abstraction and minimalism. So does this kind of style attract you most? Will you still focus on this kind of style in the future?

First of all, I tried not to put too much emotion to the book when I first worked on it. It is because it seemed Japanese photographers/publishers tend to create books with too much emotions. Depending on emotions/story and show it to audiences is kind of an easy way to do it, and that was not what I wanted to do.

I should admit that there is a particular taste of mine when selecting artists to work with. What have been the point for me are a relationships between an object and an a person, an artist’s perspective to a space that affects a person and feeling of substances.

What is important for me is whether I can see those in the artists or not a perspective gap and a change in relationships that happens during transferring place to place.

My interest right now is the process itself of how an artist structures his/her artworks.The feeling that they should feel before bringing it out to the world, the coincidence that happens during the process of editing and the noise are the important elements, and I try not to miss them. The books that I have been working on are going to contain a lot of these energy. I am now trying to make not only a book itself but also a book that contains process itself.


The design of these photobooks excites me most, very contemporary, showing a sense of post-industry. The binding method is also distinguishing. For example, this year of model, the designer adopts Acrylic material as cover and the PUR binding method but is extremely steady. And I find the designer is not the staff of Rondade, so I wonder it is whom make the decision about this kind of design format and the reason why choose this kind of design?

Sometimes a random conversation with a designer happens to become an idea for composition or binding of the book. But for now, I normally get it started by understanding by myself how an artist should behave and how I can show it to the audience. After that, I make concept of the book, and then start designing. To visualize my own vision, I think it is extremely important to control what should be the final output.

At the same time, it is important for me to rethink about the structure and the rule of books that has been here for a while.

I try to doubt and think about the relationships between an artist’s thought and the structure of a book itself over and over,  and then I seek for something that expresses and suggests that has never been done, which makes my publication more contemporary.

I wouldn’t publish a book until I find the best way for each artist to bring their works out. I think over and over to find the best way to represent them.


I know that in the early time, you would hold exhibitions in your space especially the work of 伊丹豪, so what is the factor that pushes you to transform the exhibition into photobook? What’s the difference between the exhibition and photobook?

At the beginning of my career as a publisher, a photo book always have been the one that comes first before doing an exhibition.

What I wanted to do was to think of a concept of the photo book first, and bring it to an exhibition. 

I am trying not to separate exhibition and photo book. Although there is obviously a huge difference between to make audiences feel the atmosphere of the space and to make audiences experience the book, but I am sure that there is no difference in "to see". 


Does music give you any inspirations on the photobook making?

I had no experience in editing a book, but instead, I had an experience in making music, which I think made me to do something different from other publishers and to think artworks in a different perspective when making books.

From my experience, I know that music can appeal more directly to audiences than photographs because it gives them an experience, so now I am trying to bring the idea into photo book for the audiences to “experience” photo book in their hands.


Are there any publishers that you fancy very much in the whole world? And why?

I know there are many great publishers in the world but it is hard to name one. I am, in a way, attracted to the history of books that developed from Europe to America, however, at the same time, I also think that they make books too perfect including the design, which doesn’t give me new experience.

Honestly, I feel sympathy to your publications. I think you have much flexibility in ideas and have your own perspective.Regional character is a good essence too.


Have you ever paid attention to the contemporary Chinese photography? How do you think of it?

I don’t have an opportunity to get to know Chinese artists because there are not many information. But like I said in the above, Chinese artists and publishers including you are going to make a flow in the photo industry.

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