Hirotaka Inoue, the Tokyo-based designer of the fine jewelry line founded in 2010, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with the launch of global e-commerce, a third boutique, one of the brand’s largest collections ever with spring 2021, and the debut of a silver line.
Known for a blend of abstract minimalism and delicate designs in unexpected shapes, the brand can seem intimidating at first glance, but has ultimately attracted jewelry lovers fond of stacking and layering. Over the years, signature items have included sleek pearl ear cuffs, delicate diamond bars, curved pearl arrow and floating pearl earrings that accentuate and complement personal style rather than overwhelm it.
“We are grateful that our audience grows with us and understands Hirotaka at its core,” Inoue said of the brand’s success and longevity. “We like to play with styling and combinations and make sure to keep a strong desire to create art that never gets old.”
The launch of e-commerce this summer adds greater international reach to the brand’s already 100-plus stockist portfolio, which includes Harvey Nichols, Net-a-porter, 10 Corso Como, Goop, Tomorrowland and Beams. With the challenges associated with predicting customs tax and shipping costs, Inoue has decided to cover those costs for e-commerce orders himself. “I didn’t want this to hinder people from experiencing Hirotaka worldwide,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to spread our jewelry globally and so far we are getting more visibility and we’re excited it’s catching on.”
Simultaneous with the e-commerce launch, a third boutique opened its doors this summer inside the famed Takashimaya in Futako-Tamagawa. A signature balance of modern and natural elements can be seen through bronze display cases placed atop organic wood pieces, among other sustainable materials such as coconut fiber and natural stone. “It’s been nice to have this comfortable environment for clients to escape to,” Inoue said.
A self-professed introvert, Inoue has thrived during quarantine stemming from COVID-19, resulting in the creation of more than 60 pieces for his spring 2021 range, which he will reveal virtually this month with Valery Demure. Inspired by nature, black onyx, pearls and gold intertwine in sleek and sophisticated shapes handled with an organic touch. Key items include the cascading toggle chain earrings soldered chain by chain; the “Dune” ear cuff series featuring intricate threads sculpted on hoop and oval silhouettes to mirror the shapes created by water ripples; gold circle pendants outlined in white and black diamonds, and the “Bumblebee” two-part earrings connecting an Akoya pearl to an onyx, malachite or tiger’s eye sphere with a subtle stinger detail. As always, pieces are handmade by Japanese artisans from repurposed gold, conflict-free diamonds and precious materials from discontinued items.
Later this year, Inoue will make his first foray into silver, which may seem odd at first given his 10 years of fine jewelry and gold development. “Working in gold and silver are two different worlds and it does not directly translate,” he explained. “I know it is a different skill set, so as a 10-year anniversary challenge, I decided to put my hands on it, with all the respect to great creators in history. It may fail or succeed, our clients will tell us.
“Even as a child, I was a big Georg Jensen fan, which gave me a foundation for understanding the beauty of silver jewelry and tableware,” the designer said.
Though still in the beginning phase, Inoue said his vision for the line is modernist and chunky with a focus on earrings to feature hinge and clasp details. “The beauty lies in the contrast of light and shadow in silver jewelry and cutlery, which is not much of the concern in gold jewelry,” he said. “When I think of the silver line, many keywords pop up: futuristic, bold, Art Deco, timeless, nostalgic, ocean, earthy. Some contradict each other, but this is the magic of silver, it evokes many mixed feelings. This is certainly a challenge but worth trying as an artist.”
As for the next 10 years, Inoue is looking to immerse himself even deeper in design. “Even though all the creations are from my own drawings, concepts and ideas, the past decade I was very busy with the business side of the brand,” he said. “I feel as things are working well I am gaining more solitude time in my atelier for purely artistic activity.”