Japanese-born, Netherlands-based idealist Noriko Yoshii is the designer behind cutting-edge handbag label AMBEREBMA. Made from real leather in traditional tanneries in Italy, AMEREBMA products can be distinguished by their dedication to quality, precise attention to detail and an overall brand aesthetic that draws heavily on elements of the occult and dualist philosophies. Noriko’s monochromatic, palindromic approach immediately marks AMBEREBMA out as a uniquely positioned brand – one with a clearly defined identity that is underpinned by a firm commitment to keeping their products individually unique and faultlessly durable and long-lasting.

FAULT Focus had the pleasure of speaking to her about her approach to her business so far:

Photographer: Zak Andrea Zaccone

FAULT: What was it that first spurred you to launch your label? Was there a specific event that helped you to make the decision or was it a process that took a long time before you made the big fist step into production?

Noriko: I used to live in Italy, and over there I was a designer for a fashion label. At that time, I thought to myself strongly that I would never start my own brand. That was because, throughout my career as a designer, I had learned that in order to create and sustain a brand it costs a lot of money and also a lot of work.

However, after I moved to Netherlands I was able to meet a lot of artists. Not just designers, but painters, musicians and people with a lot of new thoughts, ideas and energy. Coming into contact with them allowed me to think that I was able to do something too. Many people told me that I should start design bags once again.

The words of the owner of the factory where I make my bags now have also affected me greatly. He had been producing bags for couple of big designers, but for the past few years he constantly declined offers from small brands. Despite that, he told me that, if I were to start a brand, he would like to work with me.

I decided to start my brand from the support of all these people around me.


We love the name of your brand – AMBEREBMA – and the values it stands for: longevity and timelessness bound up in hopes for the future. On that note, you have mentioned how people are moving away from the idea of using a high quality statement pieces for a long time – presumably in favour of cheaper, ‘disposable’ items. Why do you think that is?

10 years ago, with the flow of different identities and hobbies, there was fashion. But now, we are flooded with information whether you are out on the streets or you are in front of the computer. The economic decline that we are going through has now lead people to seek cheap products. They tend to pick similar products to the people around them in order to feel like they are also ‘on-trend’ – just like everyone else.

I am also just a normal woman in her thirties who likes fashion. Feeling that ‘flow’ [trend] myself, I wanted to stop and think: “Is this what I want or now?” As much as the world has become accessible and convenient, there is also the other part of the world which is suffering from all of that: whether that is people, products, or the environment. I wanted to focus my eyes and energy on those things.

Photographer: Max Botticelli

How do you intend to change that trend with AMBEREBMA?

I don’t intend to change the way people think. I believe that people do not change from being told. They change by realizing it themselves. With AMBEREBMA, changing something is not my intention – it is more that I intend to make my statement through it. If there are people who agree with it and with whom I can share that thought then I’ll be very happy.

Living in this world now, with massive amount of information, we tend to forget what’s really important. We forget that there are traditional crafts within different countries which we must protect.

In Italy, there are tanners and leather craft factories that have been making these products for a long time. I use real leather (animal skin) to make my products, therefore I want to make a statement of respect for those industries and put across other important messages through the label.


How do people buy your products?! We can’t do that through your website yet, it seems…What are your plans to make the line more widely available?

Right now we have 6 shops around the world which carry AMBEREBMA. There are shops which already have an online store and there are also ones that are planning on starting one. Unfortunately, at this point I’m not thinking of making an online store myself.

Right now I do a pop up store/exhibition twice a year in Tokyo, and a couple of times in Amsterdam and Milan. Actually talking and coming into contact with the clients is the method that I think suits me most.

Photographer: Zak Andera Zaccone

We were intrigued to see so much diversity between your products in terms of their individual designs and inspirations. There are unifying themes, of course, but why it is it (do you think) that so many of your pieces showcase such a wide range of influences?

The core of my philosophy has always been the same. I like the phrase “nothing is good or bad: thinking makes it so”.
The world exists from two core aspects; however, it all depends on how you perceive things. That is the reason why I make unisex products and why black and white is emphasized. That dualist philosophy is always present when I design the bags and when we shoot the products. I focus on portraying the image of AMBEREBMA when I design: “It looks simple from the outside but there is an inner strength that lies within”.

I like the thought of this, and I would like to be like that as well. I believe this comes across quite strongly in my designs.


Is there a particular process you follow when designing?

In the process of designing, image research and material research is important but, even more than that, I find importance in communication and coming into contact with people. At the exhibition, I talk to clients and I listen to their feedback. When we shoot the campaign imagery, I talk to the photographer. When I work on collaborations, I talk to the artist.

The smallest things can turn into a big idea for me. I draw my designs by hand and I make the paper patterns myself.

Photography: Jim Plasman

Do you have a favourite piece from your current collection?

[Laughs] That’s a hard one!

To me, each item is like my child. I use the SS1 (the card case), SS2 (coin case), and MM1 (multi-case) daily. I also use JJ2 bag frequently and, since I travel a lot for work, I use the SS4 (passport case).

I try to use all the items in order to see the good and bad sides of the product.

Photographer: Zak Andrea Zaccone

Describe your ideal customer: what type of person would most appreciate the AMEREBMA label?

The target for this [sort of high quality] brand. I use high quality materials and the products are long-lasting. So I’m not focusing on age or gender. I guess you can say that anyone who agrees with and shares my mission statement is my target.


What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a joint exhibition with the artist Alice Morishita in Tokyo. We’ve recently done some collaboration pieces together and the exhibition is on Oct 17th, 18th, and 19th.

Afterwards, I am going to show at an Open Atelier in Amsterdam with the Dutch jewelry artist, Jacomijn van der Donk. It will be on November 22nd and 23rd.

I will also be having a pop up store/ exhibition in Milan in December. Please check my Facebook page for details:

Photography: Jim Plasman

What is your FAULT?

[Laughs] I’m stubborn and I tend to focus too much into my own world. That’s why, maybe I’m a little weak on the sales aspect.


For more information on Noriko or AMBEREBMA, please visit