Lama Hourani is the ultimate jetsetter. The jewelry designer divides her time between Shanghai, Amman, and Barcelona, thereby guaranteeing plenty of exciting cultural references in her design process. Her breathtaking jewelry pieces are living proof of that, showcasing her endless creativity and impeccable aesthetic. Read on as mother-to-be Lama Hourani takes Savoir Flair on an inspiring journey through Japan, where she collects memories, experiences, and – most importantly – design inspiration for days.
My first trip to Japan was in 2010, and I fell completely in love with the country and its culture, aesthetics, and gastronomy. It’s a haven of inspiration for people in creative fields. I have returned a few times since and still find it breathtaking. Japanese architecture, fashion, and art are just so unique. They have a strong identity that is simultaneously complex and simple. All of these elements have played a major role in forming my vision. I was captivated by Japan’s aesthetic theory called ‘Wabi-Sabi’, which puts the acceptance of the transience and imperfection in focus. Eye-opening!
Tokyo is a magnificent city filled with energy and uniqueness. The complex Japanese culture is based on absolute discipline; you won’t find any chaos here. Everything is meticulously calculated. My favorite area is Harajuku, where the famous “Harajuku girls” come from. This fashion phenomenon has inspired numerous designers worldwide. What I love about the street style of Tokyo is its strong sense of individualism. In a single group of friends, one will have tattoos and a mohawk hairstyle, one will be wearing a suit, and the third will be in a traditional kimono. This diversity is super cool.
What I love about the street style of Tokyo is its strong sense of individualism.
The heart of Japan’s street-style scene is Harajuku and has been for decades. Long before Comme des Garçons, BAPE, and Undercover became household names in the West, these brands had already made a place for themselves on the streets of Harajuku. Countless designers, global trends, and fashion subcultures got their start in this small neighborhood of Tokyo.
Shibuya is the typical postcard-perfect place (think: masses of youngsters on the streets, neon signs, and mainstream shops and chains), while Aoyama is a high-end area with the world’s best brands and amazing architecture alongside beautiful, huge facades. It’s definitely a must-see space for luxury and shopping aficionados.
I do a lot of market research on fashion jewelry and trends while in Tokyo, but Japanese food is the core of all my trips. My husband and I are massive foodies and book into a different restaurant every night. We go to the fish market for sushi at 6 a.m. (I couldn’t this time due to my pregnancy), walk around to people-watch, shop for manga magazines, eat ‘Castella’ cake every morning, and hunt for new kimonos and emerging Japanese designers.
I first discovered Tadao Ando’s architecture when I lived in Milan while getting my master’s degree in Product Design, as he designed the Teatro Armani. The amazing cement panels that form the walls of most of his creations remained stuck in my head for years. I then traveled to Japan and found his cement walls all around the city. He created a movement that has influenced numerous Japanese architects.
Naoshima is an island that is all about art and architecture. Most of its museums and monuments were designed by my favorite architect, the aforementioned Tadao Ando, so imagine my thrill! It was one of the most relaxing and inspiring experiences that I’ve ever had on a creative level. The sophistication in his aesthetic is, at times, overwhelming. We stayed in one of the six suites that are located at the top of Benesse House. The experience was one I will remember for life.
Browse through the gallery below to follow Hourani around Tokyo.
Here, I’m taking a selfie with Yayoi Kusama’s famous dotted pumpkin in Naoshima and wearing my favorite Givenchy cashmere cape.
I was blown away by Kan Yasuda’s sculptures that are entitled ‘The Secret of the Sky’.
My first encounter with James Turrell’s work at the Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima. I was completely taken by how simple and impactful his aesthetic is.
On top of the ‘Oval’ at Benesse House at sunset. The ‘Oval’ is a six-suite area in the hotel with stunning views and a brilliant blend of modern and contemporary art by Tadao Ando.
Dining at a delicious shabu shabu restaurant while wearing the ‘Shield’ ring from my fine-jewelry line.
The unbelievable view of Osaka from our suite at Benesse House. I couldn’t stop admiring its architecture.
One of the graffiti artworks that I saw in many variations on walls around Naoshima. I’m wearing my ‘Burkina Faso’ ring.
I was mesmerized by Frank Stella’s ‘The Grand Armada’ in Naoshima.
One of the highlights of the museum located within Benesse House was this fascinating piece by Bruce Nauman.
From where we stand: A tradition that my husband and I share is to take photos of our feet from above on all our travels and to make a book every year with dates and places.
On Tokyo’s Shibuya walk wearing a vintage kimono from L.A. and a felt riding hat from Bangkok’s night market.
Tokyo’s Nezu Museum has beautiful ceramics and traditional Japanese art.
A great retrospective of Issey Miyake’s work at The National Art Center in Tokyo.
The magnificent beauty of Tokyo’s almond trees blossoming. Every part of the city is celebrating life and spring.
An evening out in Tokyo wearing a Céline leather dress and Givenchy skate shoes.
Tokyo’s “Harajuku girls” are not easy to find. They represent a Japanese social phenomenon that has become a global attraction and inspiration to many designers.
Kimono details from Tokyo – I use these images as color-palette inspiration throughout my creative process. I’ve been obsessed with vintage kimonos since my first trip to Japan in 2010.
A traditional wedding ceremony taking place in a park in Tokyo.