You can tell a lot about a designer by what they name their brand—their taste, their aesthetic, if they’re worth keeping an eye on. And when it comes to the whole brand name game, jewelry line Complete Technique ranks pretty high in my book. Two simple words that strike just the right balance of focus and effortlessness.
So how did designer and founder Osamu Koyama come up with it? “’Complete’ is the meaning of my first name, Osamu (修). I used Complete when I started making custom jewelry for my friends,” shares Osa, the name he usually goes by.
“Then, in early-2000, people started to really go on the Internet and websites, so I had to get a domain name, trademark, and other legal stuff. But I couldn’t get ‘Complete’. It’s a common word and someone already got the domain. That’s when I decided to add ‘Technique’ because it really is my technique… nobody can make my jewelry because it comes from my hands.”
True enough, since its start in 2005, Complete Technique has turned out to be a somewhat autobiographical line. Its trademark pieces—featuring audio equipment, Leica cameras, and street label collaborations—have all been interests of Osa at one time or another.
“I wanted to be a DJ. Many of my friends were DJs, and I had been listening to hip-hop since I came to New York. So I got a turntable and mixer, and started practicing scratch and mixing tapes,” he reveals. “And actually, people think I just listen to hip-hop, But I like a lot of music—jazz, soul, punk rock… I listen to classical when I work. It helps me relax and focus on making jewelry.
“I was already studying jewelry design then, and realized I could make some DJ gear as silver accessories. I had never seen any made specifically for DJs or producers. I thought it would be a big market. I chose the Technics Head Shell and 45 Adapter for the first DJ series.”
You came to New York by way of Nagoya, Japan over 10 years ago. Why the move?
I visited New York in 1998 and stayed with my sister’s boyfriend. I really liked N.Y. life, so I decided to move the following year. I was 21 years old. I likte the energy of N.Y.—it’s a mix of people from all over the world, and everyone has their own style. My sister moved to NY to stay with her boyfriend, too, so I was lucky.
So when did jewelry come into the picture?
Honestly, I never thought about what I wanted to be in Japan. I couldn’t seem to find what I wanted to do there, and decided to not go to college. I went to NY to look for something I could do in other country. At first, I was interested in fashion design and interior design, so I looked for a class I could take in the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
I ended up enrolling in a jewelry class, thinking it would be cool to make some pieces for myself. I didn’t even think about selling my jewelry. But then I realized the cost of material is very high and it was hard to keep making stuff, so I had no choice but to sell my stuff to friends in order to get money for new stuff.
Describe how you go about creating a piece.
Usually, I make a wax model and metal model in my workshop. Then, I ask a vendor in New York to do casting, polishing, setting, plating, and anything else, which I bring back to my workshop and polish myself. I also contract a Chinese factory for mass production.
Most of time, I work in my workshop. It’s a little space: three benches and a few machines for drilling and polishing. My main tools are for filing. But I also have to go pick up stuff, meet with my clients… I am jumping on subways all day long.
What’s the most difficult piece you’ve made?
I think MPC3000 was pretty hard for me. But I can say custom pieces are always difficult because I have never made them before. Actually, the most difficult thing is to make work that I myself am satisfied with. If I don’t feel it’s my best, I can’t show it to my clients. That’s always a challenge.
Any memorable jewelry-making experience so far?
I have made a lot of stuff for people, but I think the most memorable was the custom piece for Deisel. They wanted to make a custom two-finger ring for the promotion of their perfume. I made only 30 pieces and one of rings was for Common. I went to their event and met him. I explained to him what I made, as his ring is a very special piece.
Your work is like an autobiography—things you’ve liked through the years. Can you share your plans for the future?
That’s right, my first concept was to make speakers and music equipment I liked. People started talking about Complete Technique as being hip hop, which is cool for me because it’s great PR. I used to like the Speakers Series a lot, but now I like custom engagement rings more. I want to focus on fine jewelry for women and men, so that I can design, too. If I keep using the designs of music equipment and other stuff, I won’t become a really good designer.
If not jewelry, I would probably be a plastic toy modeler. I got into Gundam seeing it from my older brother, so I also started making Gundam, Zeta Gundam, Macros… I was also into robots, BB Guns, R/C Cars, and more.
When I am not working, most of time, I am working on a motorcycle or riding. My favorite place in N.Y. i think is Dumbo, Brooklyn, where I have a studio. I have a garage, too, so most of the time, I’ll be there.
WORDS BY KATRINA TAN.