Hirotaka Inoue has a way of taking minimalistic pieces like sleek pearl ear cuffs and delicate diamond rings and making them feel abstract and unexpected. Trained in Paris and based between New York and his hometown of Tokyo, the creative designer fuses diverse inspirations to communicate his distinct point of view. Below, we talked to Inoue about launching his namesake line, Hirotaka, and his highly personal approach to design.
The Window: Why and how did you first become interested in jewelry?
Hirotaka Inoue: I have always had a great love for nature and living creatures. As a child, I was fascinated by metallic beetles, striking gemstones, and strange shaped flowers in the rainforest. Then, as I grew older, I was looking for a way to express this same sense through an art form. Jewelry became the way for me to mimic their wonders.
Tell us about the path to becoming a jewelry designer. When and why did you decide to pursue it?
I moved to Paris in 1998 and fortuitously met a jewelry collector and designer. The stars really aligned for me, and it was then that I knew conveying my thoughts and passions through jewelry would be my future. I returned to Japan and worked as an in-house designer for a diamond jeweler in Tokyo. My position at that time was for Haute Joaillerie, which gave me a good understanding of and foundation for making high-quality jewelry.
What about launching your own namesake line—how did you know when the time was right?
I began working independently in 2007, but primarily creating bespoke pieces. I felt the need to design a collection for how I wear jewelry—personal pieces that accentuate your personality and complement your daily style rather than overwhelm it. In 2010, I decided to show my work in New York with a small trunk show in Soho. The minimal-yet-edgy style spread by word of mouth among editors and stylists, and ever since then, I have released collections twice a year.
How would you describe the ethos of Hirotaka?
I design Hirotaka to be much more than just jewelry—it’s a lifestyle. I believe that jewelry is highly personal, almost like a tattoo. It’s worn so close to the skin that, in a way, it becomes a part of your whole being.
What about the craftsmanship—tell us a little about where and how the pieces are made.
I like a very organic approach. I love drawing—this is where all of my designs begin. Then, I meet with my creative team to discuss how we can bring my vision to life. The collection is handmade by skilled artisans in Japan, where attention to detail is so important.
Tell us how you approach your collections—do you work from an overarching theme, or do you have specific inspirations for each season?
Hirotaka always has one overarching theme, which is a love of nature. My core collection now serves as a base, and the new seasons act as extensions of that concept by exploring different shapes and forms.
You’ve worked in New York, Paris, and Tokyo—how have these different places influenced your approach to jewelry and design?
Each city definitely offers a different vibe and inspiration for me. The journey started in Paris, and I always remember learning classic and traditional jewelry making there, and, of course, studying some poetic styles that I love. When I come to New York, I get a lot of inspiration from the people I meet and work with—the stylists, editors, and bloggers—they understand the style of Hirotaka, and I love to see their approach to jewelry and fashion. Tokyo is my home. This is where everything comes together, and this is the place where I can pursue my pieces in a very delicate, abstract, and minimal Japanese aesthetic.
Tell us about the latest collection.
It’s very architectural with clean lines. The standout piece may be the double-line hoop earrings. They have the organic motion of vine traces—a sort of infinity symbol. It’s one of my favorites.