An interview series of New York correspondent Nick Hsu, gathering different stories of the New Yorkers, inviting us to probe deeper into a brand new American dream. Let's start with SoHo, get to know more about ORIKAMI, a design shops that got a spirit of Issey Miyake.
The fashion or the arts in New York City is perhaps not as avant garde as Paris’, nor as classic as Milan’s, but the city indeed gave birth to countless artists or designers. Many people came all the way to New York, just to catch a glimpse of these famous artists, or to purchase those well-known brands that symbolize status and wealth; but for me, visiting all kinds of design shops everywhere in Manhattan, listening to entrepreneurs from all over the world, or listening to the artist who shares the concept of his/her imported goods, often makes me find the unexpected writing inspiration, even that of some most unique design products.
I met Valérie Kerbage, founder of ORIKAMI a few weeks ago, at a firm’s Thanksgiving lunch party. During the meeting, Valérie and I exchanged contact information, and decided to visit ORIKAMI in SoHo for interviews on weekend.
The word ORIKAMI comes from Japanese, which stands for the concept of "origami". So you can imagine that most of the design products sold by ORIKAMI require buyers to DIY, or at least to fine-tune the products. Valérie is from France, and moved to New York City with her husband 10 years ago.
"I've been influenced by Japanese culture because of my parents since I was little. My father brought many origami art products from Japan to decorate our home; I hadn't been to Japan, but many French children grew up under the influence of Japan's anime culture." Valérie explained to me the influence of the Japanese culture on her.
From France to New York, Valérie had always dreamed of opening her own store, but it had not been put into practice until 2014 when their first child was born. She then made up her mind to invest in and create the shared memories with their child.
As a result, ORIKAMI was born. ORIKAMI is located in the Public Factory on West Broadway Street in SoHo. The booth is small. Products sold there are not as many as the ones displayed on her website, but are enough to let Valérie show her business philosophy.
"In addition to selling various products inspired by origami, I hope that the buyers will have some special feelings after seeing the products of ORIKAMI, whether it’s because the products here are interesting, or because of ORIKAMI’s one of a kind art concept or art crafts. I hope that, after shopping in my store, every customer will be so amazed at the potential that the human brain can show." Valérie said. Because of this, many of the products I saw in the ORIKAMI booth require buyers to DIY, just like this Easy Mirror. In order to see the final product, you can decide on its frame angle for yourself.
"I like that customers participate in the process - a process that gives life to art." Valérie continued.
Valérie is definitely an artist who is good at drawing from her own life experiences, assembles those personal experiences, and then creates artistic concepts. Just like her store name ORIKAMI, Valérie combined children’s playfulness and creativeness when they were assembling their toys, with her experiences influenced by Japanese culture when she grew up in France, and then practiced her ideas in New York City.
If the above text is still too abstract, I asked Valérie about her three favorite products, which may make you more familiar with the ideas ORIKAMI wants to express.
Studio Snowpuppe from the Netherlands - this is a small pendant lamp folded by paper.
Valérie said: "I love its beautiful details, a beauty that can only be shown by folded paper.”
Freakish Clock from Italy - this is a product I loved most during the tour.
Valérie said: "I like its idea – turn the most common clock that appears in the daily life into a work of art. It's simple yet very practical.”
Origami Accessories from Singapore - these are the accessories inspired by the childhood anime and origami, including earrings and necklaces, etc.
"These accessories are very interesting, and most importantly, they interpret ORIKAMI quite clearly.”
Currently, ORIKAMI is mainly selling women's and children's products, as for future plans? Valérie said: "ORIKAMI will continue to discover artists from around the world; we have recently begun to sell works of art specifically designed for children, and these works of art are of course influenced by the origami culture deeply. But more importantly, these products can be assembled repeatedly, and they appear differently after each assembly. We hope that we can introduce these products to adults in the near future.”
I've visited a lot of art shops; the uniqueness of ORIKAMI is that it gives customers the opportunity to participate in the process of creating works of art. And just like the melting pot, the symbol of New York, the products here are created by artists from around the world. Every visit is like brainstorming; you often find amazing products unexpectedly.
One more question, I asked Valérie about her favorite Asian designer; it’s neither Alexandra Wang, nor Jason Wu, but Issey Miyake; he’s a masterly designer deeply influenced by origami.
"I like his minimalism, the fun of his designs, and his poetic aesthetic point of view." Valérie explained.
I think that perhaps the simpler the more likely it can stimulate creativity and beauty. If you come to New York, don't forget to visit this interesting design shop.