Hikari Yokoyama is a founder and creative director of Naum House. Naum House is an interior design and curation company focused on creating meaningful experiences in space through art, design and nature. Naum House eschews the normal boundaries between various disciplines seeking instead a unified approach that implements what is relevant to each individual project.
She sits on the Fundraising & Marketing Committee for Women for Women International UK and is an active supporter of Client Earth which uses legal action to enforce and create laws to protect life on Earth. Hikari is a member of the Future Contemporaries committee at the Serpentine Gallery and is a founding member of the South London Gallery Council. She is also a contributing editor for British Vogue.
In between running her company and being a mum, she sat down to share some of her thoughts with us.
Shot by @paulphung
What is the value of art in general for humanity?
For me, art reminds us that the world is more multifaceted than what we encounter in day-to-day life, that there are still mysteries to be uncovered and grappled with, that there are forces of power that go beyond our immediate reactionary thinking, that there is a history that must be atoned for, that there is spirit imbued in materials – or even that spirit and matter are not separate. In essence, great art takes the very personal or individual and makes it universal.
Why are you interested in design?
Design is impactful because it first and foremost must serve a function. It must also entrance through its serviceable components. The meaning of design comes through the experience of it – it is a vessel for human activity and comes alive through people using it to live. Art is different in that it is not necessary to serve a function and you usually are not supposed to touch it, but the experience of perceiving the artwork is a catalyst for an internal experience. Great art will trigger a person into experiencing a feeling or different awareness, a memory, new information or all the above. The two dynamically and harmoniously living together are my pursuit.
One of the best examples of this for me would be Carlo Scarpa’s Museo Canova in Possagno. The design of his building, its windows, plinths, stairs, structure, breathes new life into precious Canovian gypsotheca, a singular collection of plasters, that was saved by the stepbrother of Antonio Canova after the neoclassical artist’s death... eventually making their way to Possagno by ship and by horse & cart, an arduous journey.
What are your tips for someone who is choosing an art piece? How do you choose the right piece for you?
People often ask me this but the best way to choose is you understand yourself. That is pretty much the best way to make any decision – not based on extrinsic validation, not based on fear of making a mistake, not based on having dollar signs in your eyes. With art, it also helps to be educated because art speaks in many languages, it is not overt, there is no google translate to art, there are no shortcuts to understanding if something truly resonates and if it will resonate with future generations.
What are the most significant challenges you have felt as a woman?
There are the usual cliché things that women must juggle so much, while men are encouraged to focus solely on their career with other responsibilities, an understandable and respectable second. Just today I was feeling overwhelmed and racking my brain to think about what I can let go of so that I can more effectively balance all the other balls I’m juggling. But I would say that the biggest challenge as a woman today is how to keep all women on equal footing throughout the world – it feels like once we achieve some protection of our human rights, we cannot rest, there is another move to take them down. This is how I feel about the abortion law changing in Texas. Roe vs Wade established that women should make decisions about their own bodies but now the government in Texas are threatening abortion from every angle, making it as difficult as they possibly can be for a woman to seek an abortion in this state, not to mention the oppression of women happening under other parts in the world. The rise of intersectional feminism gives me new hope.
Can you please share with us your tips on sustainability in your personal life?
Sustainability, to me, is all about trying to account for the long term and more wide reaching knock on effects of your immediate actions. So this can relate to everything from how you run your business to how you consume to how you develop relationships to how you take care of yourself. It also means not taking resources (and natural resources) for granted.
If you are running a sustainable business – think about the longevity of this business, what sorts of people and other businesses you will be supporting, how will the company culture not only affect the people who work for you but their family members. Think about your supply chains and distribution networks, how will this have a wider effect on the environment and communities that both produce and distribute goods? Does this chime with the world that you want to see tomorrow?
There are simple ways to be more sustainable in day-to-day consumer life – limit what you buy and consider the packaging too – what enters the cycle of consumption will stay there for many years, including plastic packaging. Try to eliminate single use plastic, being thirsty one afternoon will remind you to never forget your reusable water bottle again. Also, a bit of research yields many options with a reduced environmental impact available today to substitute the usual chemical imbued, plastic-y day to day products such as dental floss to deodorant to cling film to Tupperware to laundry detergent to tampons. Remember what is bad for the environment is also bad for your body.
Research and support brands who have a sustainable supply chain or are actively working toward this goal. For bigger companies – support initiatives that are about sustainability – their marketing metrics teams are measuring the responses and more resources will go in this direction if there is a positive consumer response.
For food - buy local – buy organic, if possible, grow your own food and educate the young ones about what it means to eat from the earth. Reduce your consumption of meat and serving meat. Buy things you will keep forever. Regift and give people used items as gifts. Value things that are preloved, vintage, antique and design classics, time is the great sieve of what is good.
For personal life – indulge in friendships that nourish you and that respond to who you really are, not just your professional façade. Find a way to enter a flow state regularly – i.e., meditation, surfing, gardening, where you are not having to think, you can just do.
How do you feel wearing OYUNA pieces?
Oyuna is a luxurious all enveloping hug from Mongolia, that is at once both light and modern.
I have a few simple questions. You can reply with just a word or a couple of words.
If I say blue, what comes to your mind?
The sound of my breathing thirty meters under water in the open ocean
Resilience not fortified
My daughter’s cheek when she is falling asleep
A handful of soil that is truly alive