5mn with… Akiko Mukae

Profession: Designer

Who are you Akiko?
I was born in Fukuoka, Japan.  I went to Tokyo Zokei University for oil painting and printmaking and moved to the US to study Art in 1996.  Three months after I arrived in NYC, I was offered a great position at AMANO’s (revered Japanese artist) Studio in Soho. 2 years ago I started ATSUYO ET AKIKO, interior décor, accessories and children’s clothing company with my partner Atsuyo. Since then, we have built  domestic and international business,  and recently opened our direct online shop.

When did you decide to design line for kids? What is the concept?
My interest in starting a children’s line began after making clothes for my daughter. I imagined a style that could be worn by both a mom and her child, while still having a more artistic design and conceptual character. All of a sudden friends began asking for things that I made for my daughter and myself and eventually Atsuyo et Akiko was conceived with my friend Atsuyo, who was already in fashion. I brought my fine art background and combined it with her understanding of the fashion industry.

Who would you love to see wear your designs?
It’s most important if friends and family like the things I make (many of whom tend to be designers themselves).  It makes me proud that they like what we’ve created.  Of course if that extends to the general public, we like that as well.

You design clothes, Jewelry, accessories, do you have any preferences? Do you think it’s important these days to do a bit of everything to be more competitive?
I tend to design the things that my partner and I would like to give to our children or friends, and things that we imagine to be beautiful or fun to make.  The business is based on our desires as consumers and our challenges as artists and designers.  Competition isn’t something we really take into consideration, especially since many of our peers in the field tend not only to be our friends but also our inspiration, and sometimes even collaborators.

My favorite is probably jewelry design, and it’s one of the primary reasons we started the business.  Lately, I’ve been leaning more into the design and creation of more permanent jewelry, like gold and gemstones, designing these mother-daughter ideas to be more timeless, and passed down over generations.

If you had to create  a line for a famous designer, who would it be?

Martin Margiela.  It has an artistic aspect that I like.

What are the winter trends for Kids?
I’m not really sure…we don’t concentrate on trends so much.

What does a city like NY brings to you?
New York brings the world.  I feel no limits on myself or my work, because the art, the inspiration, and incredible mix of culture make this my home.

What is your favorite place in the city ?
Early morning at the Metropolitan Museum…..especially the morning light in the Greek/Roman section.

What’s next?  Any project?
After opening the online shop, I think our next big project would be to open our own store in New York City -someday soon.

ATSUYO ET AKIKO is sold at Pomme, ABC Carpet and in many more locations in NYC
For the rest of the  US or abroad click here



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