Hermione Skye's work evokes feelings that seem to be at odds with the current pace of our frenetic lives. These feelings of lightness and silence, feelings that sense the presence of time gone by and echo the history of materials used. British-born, soon to be Finnish, this alumni of Millfield School and the Chelsea College of Art and Design, is a multi-media artist who has lived and worked in London, Kyoto and presently resides in Helsinki. As Creative Director of design agency, Wakimukūdō, Hermione shares her creative philosophy-"the Finnish Way of the Heart" with Ayesha Kohli, Editor of Creative Sparq.
What do you do currently ?
I am the Creative Director of Wakimukudō, a design company known for its discreet designs and business concepts for private clients, including the re-designing of abandoned places, spaces, and cemeteries.
What is the philosophy behind Wakimukūdō ?
‘The Finnish Way of the Heart’ is the motto which we abide by. The heart is discreet, as it is silent. We believe all of our curations and designs should entail provoking stimuli that entice the heart, that touch the heart - hence, integrating a sense of ‘wakimukudō’ within our clients and their clientele. Wakimukudō means the positive light feelings felt within one’s chest!
As an artist who covers a wide spectrum of disciplines and techniques – textiles, installations, digital design, murals, pop-up displays – what guides you while taking on projects?
The drive to connect people to their hearts through eliciting positive light feelings felt within their chest (wakimukudō), is what guides me. The triggering of this feeling in our clients through our curations, aestheticism, and designs equates to success. Thus, what guides me is positivity and the heart.
Do you have a signature style that you have developed over the years that comes through in your creations?
Yes, we always leave all of our design with a subtle unfinished sector. This shows our respect and philosophy towards the way of the heart, in the belief that it abides by the force of fate. Thus, unfinished, we leave it to ‘fate’ and ‘destiny’.
How has your cultural background influenced your creative perspective?
Funnily enough, it hasn’t so much! Nevertheless, culture is not what one is born into but what one truly learns and respects; for me it is that of the Japanese culture and of the Finnish culture.
Finnish people are extremely humble and subtle, and there is an aspect of silent trust amongst them. I feel that these qualities are extremely important in the integration of the creation of designs that touch the heart. The heart is silent as it is too subtle, yet it knows when to trust and when not to trust. I am in love with Finland and the Finnish people, I wish for the Finnish culture to influence all of our upcoming new yet discreet designs.
What are the challenges you have faced while building your agency, Wakimukūdō and how do you overcome them?
Many of our clients hire us both for business innovations and concepts, as well as designs. Yet, many of our clients are of older generations that have yet to be exposed to new ideas. Hence, though they want something ‘completely new’ most of the time their mindset is to topple their competitors. Thus, it is hard to explain to them the philosophy behind our business innovations and ideas, that are "out of the box" and have yet to be thought about by the mass public. It takes complete trust, which is challenging at first for our clients but essential for us to carry out our ideas in sales, packaging and even the re-integration of businesses.
What does “creativity” mean to you?
Creativity equates to the bridge that connects the mind to the heart. When this bridge is intact, creativity is the flow of water that passes through the streams of the mind to the heart and vice versa.
After studying the design of antiquities in a Japanese college, being mentored by Japanese monks and priests, being taught techniques and philosophies of sacred designs, symbols, spaces – what do you believe are a few practices that can help people tap into their inner creative source?
It is the silencing of the subconscious mind and the belief in the feelings felt within one’s own heart, as well as the importance of keeping a positive surrounding. A positive flow can only be reached when one truly fights for what is right and maintains the positive flow within one's heart. By listening to the subtle silent voices found through the sensations felt within the heart, one can tap into the creative inner source.
What is your creative process when you start work on a new project?
I stand by our philosophy; hence I first seek silence in that I seek to walk by the river or in the forest, a morning walk at 5 a.m. Afterwards, I would have a meeting with my team, who are extremely meticulous individuals. Our spatial designer is possibly the most organized person I have ever met; Each project takes on it’s own form. Sometimes we start with a full vision, in which case our attention is focused on how to achieve this vision to the closest detail and highest standard possible – starting from outside and building inwards towards the final design and essence.
At other times we start at one small point – it could be a pattern or an object that has a particular quality or essence we want to harness, from this point we grow outwards towards the final design. With either process there is an inherent flow, if something does not feel right we adapt quickly to a new solution; taking wisdom from the way a stream would glide around the boulders and rocks within its path.
Who or what inspires you?
Zhu Ge Kong Ming, the advisor from the chinese military epic known as The Romance of The Three Kingdoms, is an inspirational character. As to what inspires me? Old age, decay, anything that elicits the wisdom of time inspires me. As of course, we specialize in the re-creation of abandoned buildings, spaces; as well as eliciting the feelings of wakimukudō in event spaces. It is inevitable that any physical objects or nature that elicits time is what inspires me.
How has technology changed the way you work and what are the opportunities and challenges that it presents artists such as yourself?
I think when it comes to humanity and technology, one is forced to look at the concept of ‘adaptability’, as indeed when it comes to socio-environmental and physical aspects of evolution, adaptability is the key to success in eras within our existence. Though we thrive in traditionalism and traditional techniques, we too embrace the aspects of technologies. Our spatial designer is quite an expert in architectural softwares that even I have yet to know myself. Whilst, our pattern designer is adept in traditional arts such as pattern making and dying. These two are vital to our adaptability in this present timing.
Creative and cultural investments are often de-prioritised during tough economic times as they are deemed nice to have but not necessary. Why do you think this happens or what do you think can be done to avoid this?
Our world is governed by the concept of power. Unfortunately, power in our present era equates to military, medical, technological and scientific advancement. Defense and attack are not only military obligations that affect a nations' importance- this aspect has also been innately placed within the neuroanatomy of the human brain - ‘the fight versus flight’ wiring.
In order to avoid this, one needs a complete re-integration of not only education but social reform that utilises creative and cultural richness to be the paradigm on which nations compete or fight each other. In other worlds, a parallel existence really, a re-do as well as a reform!
If you had to suggest a government policy intervention involving the “creative industries” that could make a positive impact on society in your view, what might that be?
I like to think of things in simplicity, as opposed to complications. One that requires smaller budgets than most. In this present time, I propose a ‘collateral opposition of creativity’.
What I mean is that I wish for children as young as the age of seven to be exposed to not only education but media that exposes them to the beauty of antiquities and the philosophy of it, one that has moral values. Take for example, calligraphy classes and practice of the Japanese tea ceremony as a requirement in schools, and having the social environment as well as the microsystem to promote it and this includes media, cartoons and movies to promote such. For older populations, this policy would require re-introducing the idea of stimuli input that keeps the synaptic connections within the brain active. The idea of ‘forever young’ , hence exposing them to young children’s activities be it something similar to sand making, Pokemon catching, anything that entertains the young.
If you were to compare levels of creativity among children today versus your childhood, what differences and similarities do you see?
I do not see much difference, for I am a true believer in the innate way of creativity, that it can always be accessed, if one abides by the love and positive feelings felt within one’s heart.
Please share a few examples of work that you are proud of.
Signature Corner Loom
One of our signature loom designs is the ‘Corner loom’. It is most popular in meditation rooms in private homes, since they are more discrete and we use them to balance the unseen yet felt harmony of the space.
We pay particular attention to corners in all our interior designs, since it is within these areas that the energy is most sensitive, yet can be utilised to enhance the overall positivity, flow and feel of the space. Corners are junctions of two physical planes, thus there are two unseen forces that converge at this point. If the junction of these two forces is combined with a third positive object or design, it harmonises the fragility of converging forces with the rest of the space and hence instills a balance within the room.
Normally incorporated with a stone, branch or an object from nature, the corner loom designs create a harmonious pattern around the chosen object (utilising various qualities of cord) to magnify its essence and further enhance the positivity throughout the space.
Ongoing Project, Somewhere in Europe
These four images are of our ongoing project! Our loyal clients have commisioned us to work on this abandoned place. It is a Wakimukudō through and through. We are not allowed to reveal it now, but inevitably you will feel the wakimukudō within you! [Watch this space for more updates!]
The pattern design is based on our understanding that we are a reflection of nature, and that if we feel with our hearts, the wisdom hidden within our minds can be found within the patterns of nature.
The forms on the turtles shells mimic the human brain. The pattern expands, and multiplies in the same way. We see the old mandala designs repeat, expanding into an over all design that represent the many interconnecting universes.
Bespoke Jewelry Store, Osaka. Interior: Mural and Loom Design
This design was based on the fluidity and calm imbued by the carp ponds surrounding specific Japanese temples. The simple background curves represent the undulating ripples upon the surface of the pond; the shapes are also direct silhouettes of a Japanese temple roof structure.
The utilization of our signature loom within this design is subtle, since we wanted it to represent the silent wind that appears on the surface of the pond. The strings within this design blend into the background, but their shadows created by the sunlight from a circular skylight window remind us of the nature of the wind's subtle existence. As the sun passes through the day, shadows appear on different areas of the loom and form new patterns.
By creating a loom design that has a direct relationship with the sun, we were able to create a more malleable sense of time within the jewelry shop. With no clocks displayed, the time of day could be related to the shifting shadow patterns, and hence help to imbue a more fluid relationship with time, enhancing the overall positivity and lightness within the shop. (Due to the privacy agreement, and our inherent discretion, we have kept the name and final content of the store undisclosed. As the heart is silent and mysterious, this is how Wakimukudo functions. We work in silence and with discretion.)
A brand storyteller, Ayesha Kohli is the founder of communications consultancy, Sparq Communications and the Editor of Creative Sparq. She launched the site in 2017 to showcase different perspectives on creativity and creative thinking. Passionate about people, culture, education, leadership, technology and trends, she loves championing emerging talents and new businesses.