As part of our ongoing quest to document contemporary artistry here in New York, lately we’ve been turning our attention to the niche world of jewelry design.
It’s a fascinating industry, and one that thrives in the current setting of online marketplaces and social media marketing.
While it’s true that big-name jewelry brands still claim a major stake in the industry, there’s more room than ever before for independent designers to make a name for themselves.
Otake serves as the Creative Director for the independent brand 8.6.4 Design. He handles jewelry design as well as the design of leather and nylon accessories.
The brand’s style is bold, merging patterns with organic shapes and forms. It’s work that draws more attention to the person wearing it than the product itself, which is kind of magical.
Whereas traditional jewelry has long been a way of communicating status, these pieces are more about pure style.
We met Otake in Brooklyn one rare sunny afternoon. He quickly turned out to be exceedingly friendly and very excited to talk about his work, from the actual design work to marketing products in a highly competitive market.
Below, you’ll find an abridged version of our conversation with Otake. We hope you enjoy.
Do you think that social media offers a valuable opportunity for brands to connect with their customer base on a more personal level?
Otake: Yes, Instagram helps me show my new work to a wider audience. I try to post something every day. Often I use story elements to show myself working on new pieces at the studio or scenes of production at the manufacturer. But there are also times when I want to share some inspiring art or places I’ve been to. It’s about having a relationship beyond my work.
How would you describe your personal product design philosophy?
Otake: My pieces are largely inspired by everyday objects and a traditional Japanese aesthetic. I try to combine these seemingly disparate elements to make something fresh and unique.
Do you enjoy working with small companies?
Otake: Yes, I enjoy working with smaller companies because the speed of decision-making is very fast. They always give us feedback about my products and it helps a lot when I’m creating new pieces.
Are there any other fashion brands that you see as a source of inspiration for your own work?
Do you ever have the opportunity to collaborate with others when creating new jewelry or leather goods? If so, do you enjoy the process of collaboration?
Otake: I work with a local leather goods manufacturer for production. When I bring ideas and rough samples, we discuss details, the type of leather, hardware, etc. Sometimes we make the sample together before production. I learn a lot throughout the process so I really enjoy working with them.
Is it exciting to see one of your products go to market for the first time?
Otake: Definitely. It’s always very exciting when I see some of my own pieces at my favorite stores!
Does the city of New York inspire your work in any way?
Otake: It does. The variety of cultural influences here inspires me a great deal. You can meet people from all over the world just by walking a single block. Each area has different characteristics. There are tons of galleries and museums. It’s always interesting to see what people wear or what kind of accessories they have on the street or subway.
Another great thing about New York is that I can enjoy city life one minute, but if I drive 45 minutes, I can visit beaches and pockets of nature, which then inspire my work.