We are thrilled to spotlight our latest Marfa Muse, Hikari Yokoyama.
Hikari is a successful female entrepreneur, art curator, interior designer, philanthropist and Contributing Editor at British Vogue.
Born in Tokyo and raised in Chicago, Hikari began her career immersed in the art world. She worked for art collector Jeffrey Deitch, started an art blog called ArtObserved, before launching online auction house Paddle8.
Now living in London, she is the Founder of Naum House, specialising in art curation and interior design for a highly aesthetic sensibility, alongside Naum Flower, sustainable cut flowers from farm to vase in London and Oxfordshire.
Hikari wears size XS in the Patchwork Quilt in pale sage, white, reverse stone, with the Quilted Hood in stone, white.
Tell us about your background
Well, I grew up in a fairly normal way for the 1980s – in a split level house in the economically optimistic suburbs of Chicago. Only I was born in Japan and my dad was Japanese. And my mom was (and is) a devout Baha’i. I had that classic bicultural, biracial feeling of feeling like I never fit in and I was desperate to fit in. That took a lot of energy and lead to a lot of false starts. It was only when I finally made it to the city, to university that I felt like I could start exploring who I was without working so hard to camouflage.
Talk us through your career journey so far…
For years I have wished I was one of those people who knew exactly what they wanted to do, and did it. When I read the Steve Jobs bio, I was heartened by the story that he took a calligraphy class in university not knowing what it would be applied to, but then it helped him to create Apple and gave him an edge over the other less aesthetically inclined computer companies of the day. Sometimes, I feel like my whole career has been a series of calligraphy classes. It’s often that I am not totally sure where each step will take me but I now see all of my various experiences and skills that I have learned dovetailing into a brilliant company.
What are you most proud of?
I am really proud of what we are currently doing at Naum House. Naum House focuses on design, art and nature with the main expression being interior design and experience design. We are in the process of creating a shop to sell sourced and bespoke items. We host workshops that invite a curated group of people to engage with haptic activities, offering an alternative way to socialise rather than just meet up for drinks.
A small but incredibly important part of the business, is Naum Flower. Naum Flower is not just a florist but an entire supply chain, where we grow our certified organic flowers with artisanal methods. A lot of my work has been about beauty and design but not necessarily giving anything back to our life support systems on earth. I’ve been depressed and worn down by the fear that our environment and biodiversity is on the brink. All feelings, channelled into the correct output, can be powerful forces for creating. We use the simple power of beauty to showcase the contrast between regenerative ways of growing sustainably versus the typical methodology that depletes our soil through repetitive dousing of chemicals. I hope to inspire both farmers, small business owners, as well as anyone with a patch of land who likes to garden and feel the satisfaction of cultivating life, of working with nature to produce. Of course, I would love to save an entire rainforest or mountain range, but it’s heartening to have started somewhere.
There is an entire ecosystem in our soil – insects, nematodes, worms, mycelium, plants – that anyone with a patch of land can steward to the benefit of all our natural systems. The way farming has gone for the last forty years – whether its wheat, tomatoes or roses – is decimating soil, the most foundational resources we need to survive on land. But there are now proven methods out there by which we can produce without destroying nature. We can work with nature. We are doing it. The situation on the planet won’t change unless our lifestyle changes, we are changing with style.
What advice do you have for fellow female entrepreneurs?
I don’t know if I am in a position to give advice to female entrepreneurs, but I would say that I’m aware now that I spent a lot of time looking for extrinsic validation in my career. Like many girls, I was brought up as a girl to be pleasing, to be polite, tidy in my appearance and look for praise to know I was doing the right thing. When I got older, I wanted to be pretty, stylish, popular and get good grades. It’s something we are all encouraged to do – we spend hours of time on apps designed to hook us into looking at the world through the quantification of extrinsic validation. It’s hard to describe in a glib way, but making time and space to sit with yourself, to really look into the mirror, to make decisions in a non-reactive way, to prioritise your time and resource to what has meaning for you and the world at large are all things that I think entrepreneurs should do. A lot of entrepreneurs make decisions based on what will give them the most money or the most extrinsic validation. Both are factors appealing to investors, press and consumers, but if you build your business with real integrity, you have a solid rudder guide you through deep waters.
Do you have any recommendations this year for Frieze?
Micheal Armitage at White Cube, Magdalena Abakanowicz at Tate Modern, ten dedicated presentations at the main fair curated by Sandhini Poddar called Indra’s Net– a term derived from Buddhist and Hindu thought and refers to an ethics of being in which an individual atom holds within it the structure of reality. The curator refers to the idea as akin to a ‘vast bejeweled net: at every nexus there is a reflective orb that mirrors and refracts every other orb in its entirety. Every part is held within the whole in a system of dependent origination. All sentient life is interconnected and interdependent; shifts to one atom subtly alter the rest.’
How do you style your Marfa Stance piece and why do you like the brand?
I love Marfa Stance because it’s a twist on a basic quilted puffer. It’s timeless but it’s far from anodyne or minimalist. It’s a basic but not boring. And I love that the brand’s DNA is completely sustainable – all the fabrics and materials are responsibly sourced, either recycled or deadstock. Even their shipping is 150% climate positive. They are also partners of Build a Nest which is a non-profit I have supported for years that works with artisans around the world to find contemporary applications for traditional craftspeople.
Photographer Joshua Tarn