It is as if I can hear the sound as I look at Noriaki Sakamoto’s work; that crisp and blaring sound of a hammer striking heavily against the brass, finely planishing, creating various forms in unique shapes and ragged surfaces. Echoes come in the form of quivers on the edge of the object. Slight, rapid, undulant motion just like the frequency of sound. That rhythmic hammering sound, is it a healing song coming from a singing bowl?
Everything vibrates and is constantly in motion. Vibration builds connections. Sakamoto’s brass works are the products of vibration. The various forms, lines, and textures of his work represent a frequency of its own. “One of the keywords that Alex of THE SHOPHOUSE brought up when we touched base was ‘organic forms’, which, coincidentally, was what I was thinking a lot at that time. So immediately after our meeting, I started experimenting with a freehand drawing of different shapes and picked several that I felt were most interesting. I traced the shapes on the brass plate and started cutting them out. After that, I hammered and filed them to form a shape and texture that functions as a plate. From beginning to the end, the whole process was natural and intuitive, just like how I would usually approach and listen to what the material had to say. I am quite happy with the result.” Sakamoto recently created a ring case for THE SHOPHOUSE. The exclusive piece comes in a black, oval shape, and has an irregular surface that reminds one of a bumpy landscape. There is harmony lying in the rough lines and surface, a texture that is unique to hand-made products.
Alex said that the ring case was inspired by the sunglasses case that Sakamoto previously created with fashion designer Ziggy Chen. “I just loved the design at first glance, but I am quite a practical person. I only collect things that I use regularly. The ring case can actually be multifunctional and used for holding coins or keys. We named it as a ring case because we want it to be more precious, even as an everyday item.”
Alex said that he has been using vases created by Sakamoto ever since he came across his works on a trip to Tokyo a long time ago. Unlike some vases that are overly decorated, Sakamoto’s works look unpretentious and effortlessly beautiful. “I have worked with a lot of Japanese crafters and makers, and have a personal collection of their works. When it comes to craftsmanship, I don’t have any doubts that the Japanese are one of the best in the world. But what I appreciate the most about Sakamoto’s work is the ‘rawness’. I don’t want to use the word ‘imperfection’ as that may have a negative connotation; but some of the ‘flaws’ in the eyes of the others are precisely what I love about his work. Nevertheless, Sakamoto’s work can easily assimilate into any space. They are not overwhelming, just beautiful as they are.”
With a background in various fields of design such as interior and universal design, Sakamoto has lots of ideas and thoughts on materials, shapes, functionality, etc. “Part of these ideas have been translated into jewelry at iolom, which is a handmade jewelry label that I have been running for ten years. But there are still many ideas that I need to find another creative outlet for, so I created an eponymous label, Noriaki Sakamoto, for things that don’t fit into one unique category.” The label offers a venue for him to freely experiment with objects of different forms such as interior objects, stationeries, and fragrances. Most of these items are made with brass which Sakamoto has always been fascinated with.
“There are just so many possibilities with brass. The wide variety of expressions that you can explore with brass never ceases to impress me. This is such a versatile material that has been used by mankind for such a long time. It can be anything from everyday things that you use at home or an industrial tool. I also like the fact that the brass will never decay like iron. The durability gives my works a chance to last for a long time and be passed down from generation to generation. This motivates me to create timeless products that can be cherished for a long time.”
Depending on the finishing method, brass can be shiny or mat, clean or patinated. The versatility of brass can change an atmosphere completely. “I have recently created a floor lamp and a series of lamp shades. These are the things that I definitely want to explore more in the future. I have always been fascinated by how simple objects can change the atmosphere of a space completely, so I would like to continue experimenting more with something that is in line with this idea, particularly furniture.”
Sakamoto stresses on striking a balance between functionality and form, as well as minimizing unnecessary decoration to compliment the charm of material and the traces of hand left during the production. “Handcrafted objects carry the soul of the maker, which in turn, becomes part of the design. I believe that everything that goes on in the maker’s mind will be reflected in the product because it affects how the maker cuts or hammers. It could be so subtle that you can’t even notice during production. Products created this way are one of a kind and have such a unique aura of timelessness.”