Michio Koide is a Japanese jewelry artist, known for his pendant dedicated to Japan’s first lady and for his tiger-rings passion. His openness to new technologies, combined with traditional Japanese themes, led his artistic vision to a truly unique contemporary jewelry style, his collections travelling to Paris, as well as New York.
1. At AUTOR we are all about the story behind the design, behind the maker, behind the artist. How did you start making jewelry? Is there a story behind your jewelry experience?
There are two reasons that motivated me to make jewelry: one is my early childhood environment and the other is an encounter with Michelangelo’s work. I used to see my grandfather making wooden sculptures when I was a child – Japanese traditional motif-like dragons. We also had many tools for wood carving in the house. I think I enjoyed handcrafted works unconsciously. I have been interested in making things by hand since I was a little boy.
The encounter with Michelangelo’s work was trough books. I remember I saw a large trigger sculptural piece. I was overwhelmed by the energy of that marble masterpiece. I collected all the published materials about Michelangelo just to read more about his style and to learn sculpture. I started making small sculpted objects – first by imitation, then developing my own technique and changing gradually into jewelry. I think classical art has messages for all of us, messages that can cheer us up, just like jewelry.
2. What defines you as a contemporary jewelry artist?
The fact that a world-famous artist, Banksy, shredded his art works, became an important piece of news in Japan as well. Regardless of whether it is good or bad, I felt that contemporary art is volatile to some degree, it can be felt only by living in the moment.
I think contemporaneity came when rigid preconceptions collapsed. For example, I feel contemporary jewelry became truly contemporary when the main material was something else (like paper, wood or 3D printed plastic), not just the classic metal. Jewelry that has some new approaches is indeed contemporary jewelry for me.
“But where does modernity exist in my works?” you might ask. I like to create jewelry with traditional Japanese motifs by using digital technology. I make 3D objects, like Venus and Tiger, by using my I Pad and special drawing tools like the Apple Pencil, then I materialize them by using a 3D printer. Sometimes I feel like I am using an Apple Pencil more than a real-life jewelry making tool. Nevertheless, I am more and more excited about the future of jewelry making, especially because the 3D printing technique is evolving daily.
3. If you were a piece of jewelry, what will you embody and why?
I would like to be a bird-jewelry. I love the feeling of freedom and the elegance of it.
4. Do you have a favorite jewelry piece from your collection? If you do, what’s the story behind it?
The Tiger ring is my favorite piece of jewelry. I feel my mood is lifted whenever I wear that ring. I am collecting Japanese paintings from over 150 years ago and most of them are paintings of tigers. The interesting thing is that tigers did not exist in Japan at that time, so all the tigers depicted in that painting were imaginary ones.
5. How do you feel the Japan jewelry stage? How it developed over time in your opinion? How do you see the future of jewelry in Japan?
Not so long ago, most of the Japanese jewelry had similar designs. I wondered where was that personal touch, that meaning of a designer’s existence, if we had the same kind of designs. However, times changed. With the expansion of social media, many people started using Twitter and Facebook. Many people are posting about their favorite hobbies, raising the bar of creativity. We can say that everyone is expressing himself or herself like an artist trough various filters or technologies. I think jewelry is also changing along with the technologies. I feel people are calling for jewelry that can express their personality more.
While technology is developing, I feel that I need to not only develop my technical skills, but also to enhance creativity. I believe creativity is an important factor that can’t be replaced by a robot or AI. From a personal point of view, I love European jewelry and I think it was crucial in order to polish my creativity.