Akiko Ban (BA in Drawing at Camberwell College of Arts) is a London based artist and jewellery designer who co-directs with her partner Taiyo Nagano (MA in Digital Arts at Camberwell College of Arts) the jewellery brand Mystic Forms.
What’s your fondest memory from your time at UAL?
I remember spending time being experimental with materials and learning new skills in the workshop and printmaking studio. It was a great time, just being free and creative.
How did your company come about?
Mystic Forms started as part of my artistic research project which explores the relationship between art and body. I previously collaborated with fashion designers, choreographers and contemporary dancers to see how my artworks can interact with human body.
Around that time, I was very frustrated by the distinctive snobbiness of the fine art industry where artworks were treated like investment assets and they were physically, financially and emotionally very far from general public. So, I decided to start making affordable jewellery collection as a medium to demonstrate my belief that art should be more accessible, personal and enjoyable for everyone. That’s why we call it ‘wearable art’.
My partner Taiyo who is a graphic and digital media designer (founder of the design studio Tamassy Creative) helped me to develop the initial branding and the practical side of the product design. And now he is an integral part of the brand and we’ve been closely working together to bring the brand to the next level.
Who or what inspires you?
We love travelling and we often take inspirations from the ‘mystic forms’ we found while travelling around the world. The forms which have some kind of energy in them. This can be anything from historic remains in Egypt, spiritual temples in Thailand to great architectures in Japan. We’re both originally from Tokyo and currently living in London, so our design is also hugely inspired by the pop culture in Tokyo and London too.
What was the inspiration behind your latest collection?
The hidden concept behind our 2017 collection was the forms found in Thailand and Cambodia where we travelled in the end of 2016. Especially the golden temples in Bangkok and Angkor Wat in Siem Reap were big inspirations for the collection.
What purchase have you currently got your eye on?
My personal hit is Kick Scooter. It helps me to explore my new local area, finding good café, restaurants and interesting local shops.
Where is your most inspiring place in London?
Art galleries, museums, theatres and music venues. I especially like museum shops, so it’s been really amazing to be able to work with some of my favourite museum shops.
What advice would you give current students hoping to start their own business?
Find the media you can be really passionate about and make a business out of it. Passion is the strongest asset for success after all.
What’s next for your brand?
Expand our mystic world to the next level, both artistically and business-wise. New collection will launch in May possibly with a more experimental campaign. If you want to know more, follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!