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Pick up a copy of the Metro, London Evening Standard or TimeOut London and you can be almost certain to find an article on the unaffordability of the capital, on it’s suburban gentrification or it’s intimidating unemployment rates. There’s no denying these are real problems affecting the city’s people, but we’d like to optimistically focus on one individual’s testimony of the inspiration she has been gifted with since moving here from her native Tokyo.
Maiko Nagayama lived immersed in the ’24-hour, frantic’ city of Tokyo until the young age of 17, when she took a leap of faith and travelled far from Tokyo to England to study Art, Design, Fashion and English with very little prior knowledge about England. Leaving her parents was difficult and Maiko recalls it being ‘Emotionally not an easy time’, but found refuge in the passion she felt for her studies and the appreciation she felt for the British education system which offered diversity and nurtured creative spirit.
This appreciation continued with Maiko’s acceptance into the prestigious Central Saint Martin’s University of the Arts, an educational institute that Maiko credits as maintaining ‘A high standard of creativity’. Since graduating in 2006, Maiko’s achievements as a designer have seen her showcasing work at London Fashion Week and in Goldsmith Hall to accompany the Elizabeth Gage Award. This accolade is a testament to her inventive jewellery design which features themes from the ‘Cosmic, aquatic and human worlds’ and uses rare, quality materials such as Alexandrite, Kyanite and Chalcedony to bring these handmade pieces to life – pieces which, we should note, Maiko claims can last up to 1000 years with the proper care.
Primarily it is London itself that Maiko commends as being integral to her development as a designer – something that she already knew she wanted to do ‘For her whole life’ and seems to be sticking to. Maiko cites the behaviour of people on London’s streets, the contrast of richly historical and sharp, modern architecture and the free access to museums as being ‘Mind broadening’ and central to her development as a designer. Touchingly, Maiko seems genuinely thankful for all that the city has provided her and hearing her story reminded me of why I’m so proud to be a Londoner. I too am grateful to have been born in the city of muses.
Maiko Nagayama established her adventurous design-led fine jewellery company in 2009. This London based brand brings a new sense of identity to fine jewellery.
Born and raised in Tokyo and consequently inspired by human behaviour in the city and the intimate spaces which humans create. Her psychological observations on humans and their interaction with inanimate objects give the key ethos of her design.
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