By now, Hublot and Takashi Murakami have collaborated on a handful of pieces but the artist initially rejected the offer. One simple line changed all that.
Hublot and Takashi Murakami have recently unveiled their latest collaborative piece: the limited-edition MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Sapphire. In an exclusive press conference in Singapore, the renowned Japanese artist shared his views on the partnership, the parallels between the world of watchmaking and art, and more.
His decision to work with Hublot
Takashi Murakami (TM): “Good question (laughs). Well, actually Miwa-san [Miwa Sakai, President of the Asia Pacific Region for Hublot] approached me again and that’s why I said yes. At the beginning, I rejected the offer because I didn’t want a collaboration simply with my flower design as the cover. That’s very boring for me but Miwa-san said, ‘No, we can do what you want’. So I went to the Hublot factory in January 2019, before the pandemic. Throughout those few years, I had many back-and-forth discussions with Mr. Ricardo and Miwa-san to run through every step since it’s a very complex project. Finally, we could launch something today and the collaboration is amazing.”
Photo: Takashi Murakami and Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe
His definition of time
TM: “I enjoy watching a lot of YouTube videos revolving around the physics of time, space and universe. I really liked the movie ‘Interstellar’ and hence, I always think of how we can transcend all possibilities. To me, the world isn’t 4D but it’s a multiverse. Basically, I’m a physics geek and that’s how I see time. It’s not linear but it’s very multifaceted.”
His interest in watches
TM: “A year before I met Miwa-san, I collaborated with Louis Vuitton and a few magazines in Japan thought I love doing collaborations. After that, I was invited to many events and eventually, I was invited to a specific watch fair in Switzerland. I attended all the parties and events held by that fair and that’s how I got into the world of luxury watches. I also did a collaboration with Asaoka-san, who is an independent watchmaker in Japan. As I got more and more involved with collaborating with watchmakers, I realised that the complexity of watchmaking is very similar to making art. That’s what got me interested in this world.
“That being said, I’m honestly not a watch collector but I understand a collector’s mentality because I have a huge collection of ceramics. It may not necessarily add a big investment value but it’s an addiction. When it comes to collecting anything, it’s important to balance that addiction with some real-life limitations, such as a budget. I think having a collection lets us dream a little and escape to a different dimension. So I understand a watch collector’s mindset where you can easily travel between the past and future.”
The parallels between watchmaking and art
TM: “A watch and an art piece can survive for over 100 years, which means we have to always think between 100 years in the past and in the future; how it needs to be of a good quality that can last through time.”
Photo: Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon Sapphire
Takashi Murakami’s dream watch
TM: “This new collaboration is my dream watch so, my dream has come true. (laughs) My creative dream, that is. The quality is fantastic and it gives me this feeling of zero gravity. It’s incredible, like magic.”
His observation of new artists today
TM: “Now is the best condition for artists to grow because it’s easier for them to get money nowadays. I met a young artist who was around 20 to 22 years old and she had her works at an independent basement gallery in Tokyo. I wanted to invite her to be a part of my gallery so I met her at my studio. She brought several paintings to show me and I asked her to join me. But she said it wasn’t necessary because she can find money in other ways. Then, she went, ‘By the way, this is 200 dollars and this is 300 dollars’. (laughs) It may not sound very creative but her paintings are fantastic stuff but that’s her survival method. Posting on Instagram or YouTube, then waiting for a client, and later getting paid – this is the cycle now for artists. It may not be a huge sum of money but it shows that anyone can survive in this field now. That’s the biggest change I’ve noticed.”
Photo: Takashi Murakami at the press conference
Working with NFTs and the Art of Fusion
TM: “I was trying really hard to persuade Miwa-san to experiment with NFTs for my flower. About half a year ago, NFTs became very popular and many people bought into NFT art pieces. Facebook became Meta and everyone thought the metaverse was the next big thing. I truly believe in the metaverse because during the middle of the pandemic, I witnessed how my 10-year-old son communicated with his friends online through video games or online games. That’s how significant the metaverse felt to me.
“Sometimes artists tend to stick to a core value and can be quite uncompromising. But to me, I think you should always be ready for change and adapt to it. You can fuse it with your own beliefs and values – that becomes an accomplishment itself. So, I find the art of fusion to be the future.”