Life as a Samurai jewelry maker
1. Tell me about yourself
I am Takahiro Sumida – Owner, designer and creator of Lacquersmith LYNX. I learned Uruhi (Japanese lacquer) art and started my brand 4 years ago. I am the sole owner and I do everything: design, create, sales, etc… Our target audience is anyone looking for unusual and exotic jewelry. I create jewelry inspired by samurai armor. I use materials and techniques similar to the Samurai period. They use Urushi (Japanese lacquer) on a metal or leather for color. Urushi is a traditional Japanese painting material. It is collected from the Urushi tree. It is a very rare natural material. It can be collected at a rate of one glass per tree. Samurai armor makers used Urushi because it is weatherproof and rust-proof. I use Urushi on silver, gold and brass.
2. Why is this important news — how is your fashion different?
Samurai armor is not everyday wear, but if you put on our products, you can get a feel for Samurai armor. The jewelry I create is unique and cannot be found anywhere else.
3. Where is this happening/is there a geographical angle/is the location of business relevant?
The Japanese have beautiful traditional culture and art. I was lucky to be born in such an environment. By being Japanese, I can integrate Samurai soul into my jewelry. It also adds a level of credibility to my creations and selling points.
4. How did this come about?
Currently, Japanese traditional arts are gradually dying and Urushi buyers are decreasing. If we we do nothing, Urushi art and culture is going to die out completely. I can’t just sit and watch this happen, so I can help this art form if people get to know the beauty of Urushi through my works.
5. How would you describe your personality and working style?
Before I started this making , I decided my next job would the last. I’m going to put everything into my work and I will create this jewelry until the day I die. Creating is my joy. I get lost in the creative process sometimes forget to eat and sleep while working. At times I can be lazy, so I have to push myself every time to move forward.
6. Who are some of your favorite designers?
1. Rene Lalique who was the Art Nouveau jewelery designer. I love his bionic and beautifully designed works.
2. Zeshin Shibata. He was a legendary Urushi artisan and I respect him greatly.
7. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way when it comes to starting a brand?
Creating is not difficult, but bringing awareness to my creations is very challenging. I opened a shop in Etsy and raised Kickstarter funding, but this was not enough. I realize I need to use social media platforms more wisely.
8. What’s the idea behind your brand, where did the name come from?
I use traditional Japanese art. I’d like to transition into modern art/fashion. Then I could save this traditional art form for the future.
9. What projects are you currently undertaking and where do you see yourself in the future?
I’m planning to make simple jewelry like rings and pendant for ladies. I am currently living in Japan, but my customers are 90% foreigners. I’d like to sell to customers face to face so I’m planning to move to the EU or USA in the near future.
10. Do you have a specific research process when you start a new collection?
I look for designs derived from Japanese history. There are so many different shapes of samurai armor called KAWARI-KABUTO (strange helmet). I also read Japanese traditional pattern and style books. These books always inspire me!