Mariko Kitano, designer and maker of jewellery, creates beautiful designs using motifs from nature.
Her accessory collections reflect moments of beauty in nature – flowers, plants, animals etc. They are inspired by the nature that surrounds her in her daily life. Using a casting process, her accessories are created with a unique look that gives them softness and moderation yet with elegance. Her silver accessories are finished in a way that gives them a brilliant sparkle.
Mariko uses the lost-wax casting technique, which is one of the oldest known metal forming techniques. She studied metal casting at Tokyo University of the Arts. After completing her Master of Fine Arts, specializing in metal casting, she initially began making art objects like big pots, using the lost-wax technique. After a while, she realized that she did not want to continue making large art objects. This is what Mariko told us when we met her and her husband Shinya at Imabari, Ehime where they live.
Mariko told us that the casting process has a number of steps involved and it requires a minimum size of workshop to make large objects. It was not easy to keep making cast objects after leaving university with its larger facilities. Initially, she started creating cast accessories as a pastime, although Mariko herself does not wear accessories and was not interested in them. What made her feel happy was that people loved her accessories. She felt happy when her accessories gave people delight. She felt that it was a great thing to make something happy. She started making accessories in 2002 and she has continued creating them ever since.
When she started producing accessories, she was still living in the Kanto region, near Tokyo. Mariko was born in Matsuyama, Ehime. She spent her childhood there until she attended university in Tokyo. She grew up in the countryside, surrounded by nature. She used to walk on farm roads around rice fields to her school when she was a kid. She always saw seasonal wild flowers and little bugs and felt the change of the seasons. She did not know the names of the wild flowers or bugs. She simply enjoyed looking at them.
Life in Tokyo was busy. Mariko had to adjust her life to a big city, surrounded by buildings, lots of people and objects, and less nature. She lived every day as best she could. One day she was looking for motifs for her works, when she saw a field horsetail plant on the side road along which she was walking. It brought back the memory of her childhood living with nature. She realized that she loved nature so much.
Her collection of accessories feature the nature that is close to her daily life. She designs accessories based on what she observes and sees in nature. She draws the design on wax with a needle and then trims it with a cutter to make the original mold. The delicate lines of nature are all sensitively curved in her accessories.
She put her passion into making every detail beautifully, including each accessory's pouch and box. The box is made of paulownia wood and the pouch has the same design as the accessory itself. Mariko’s accessories adhere to a consistent ideal of beauty throughout all parts of the design.
She continues to make accessories based on inspiration from nature and her sketches in daily life. She embraces her love of flowers, plants and atmospheric changes, in order to create beautiful accessories.
Her accessory collections give us a glimpse of beauty in nature. When you see what a natural and beautiful person Mariko is, it makes sense that she creates such beautiful accessories.
It was a sunny day in November when we met Mariko and her husband Shinya in Imabari, which is the town nearest to Mariko’s hometown in Ehime. They took us for a picnic lunch next to their rice field. They grow rice, vegetables and herbs next to their house, which is an old Japanese farmhouse that they are renovating. It is located in the remote, peaceful and beautiful Japanese countryside. Small rice fields, mountains and Japanese houses are everywhere.
We sat down on goza (Japanese traditional mats) and had a beautiful, healthy and tasty lunch made from home grown vegetables, herbs and onigiri (rice balls) made from homegrown rice, along with home made umeboshi (pickled plums). It was a simple but luxurious experience.
They enjoy a slow and healthy life there. They grown foods they eat, enjoy home made cooking and renovate their house. Mariko’s husband Shinya is an architect. Shinya told us that he used to work with a modern architecture firm, but now he is focusing on a building a house in the traditional Japanese way, using local timber. It takes longer to build a house but it is much longer lasting.
The couple have chosen a natural life. They both appreciate what nature brings to their life. Modernization is everywhere and it creates a comfortable life. A traditional way of living is a great way to appreciate the blessings of nature.
Mariko’s collection is inspired by her day to day life in nature. She brings that inspiration to her collections. Her motivation comes from producing beautiful thing that make others happy.
View the Mariko Kitano collection