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Akiko Oue Interview

Akiko Oue, a jewelry maker based in Japan, finds inspiration for her designs in nature and often uses scraps she discovers along the streets of Osaka as inspiration and even material for her projects.

Who are you?

I am Akiko Oue based in Osaka, Japan.

What do you do?

I create jewelry pieces and objects that people can use daily. Of course, I am always curious to venture into new areas.

Where did you grow up?

When I was young I grew up in a small village surrounded by lots of nature. Later, our family moved to the city.

I believe that the time spent with nature influenced me, but living in Australia for a year during my high school years left a strong impression on me.

This is where I started to meet so many new people and gave me opportunities to be aware of my self-identity and environment.

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When did you take your first big risk in life?

I like to symbolize my risks as mountains. Some small mountains and big mountains I have overcome.

My experience in art class in Australia was my first mountain I had encountered.

The approach to education in Japan and Australia is very different.  In Japan, I’d say, the teacher would give the student a certain theme to work on while the student would answer to what the teacher says.

What I observed in Australia was that the student defines their own theme and approach while the teacher advises.

I had to get used to the positive encouragement that supported any approach to my ideas, but I thought it was a wonderful way to educate.

Why have you persisted with the path you’re currently on?

I like to think that by choosing to work with design means that I can intentionally make observations of the every day.

I purposefully ride my bicycle or walk as my main mode of transportation, so that I come in contact with new hints or ideas: discovering new ideas that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise.

It’s exciting to find scraps on the road, remnants and memories left behind, the wall with paint peeled, rusted store signage…imagining the context of their existence in the present and over time.

At times, I source paper scraps and plastic from the street as my reference materials to bring back to my office. I am grateful that the path I chose allows me to feel and appreciate these special moments.

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Who is someone you’d love to work with, but can’t?

It is difficult to say…

What are you working on now?

I am currently on new products for O y (a design label with my partner) and fabric.

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Who are a few people in your field that have influenced you?

Susan. She was my college professor from fifteen years ago and she was the one that taught me that design wasn’t just about drawings lines, but design is all about the relationship and story created between the person and object. She taught me the true beauty and pleasure of creating designs.

What do you think is your biggest success so far?

It’s hard to pinpoint one story. I can say that I equate much of my success to when the project takes a life of its own and allows me to meet new people with fresh approaches to bring life into the project.

Written by Breanna Muir