It has been more than a decade since Steve Aoki’s debut DJ mix album, Pillowface and His Airplane Chronicles. Since then, the enterprising American musician has become one of the highest grossing dance artists in the world. And he’s collaborated with the likes of BTS, Monsta X, Louis Tomlinson, Backstreet Boys and the list goes on. Aoki has also made his imprint in fashion with his streetwear label Dim Mak Collection. Now, the avid watch collector has partnered with Bvlgari to create the Aluminium Steve Aoki—a contemporary, nightlife-inspired version of the luxury label’s aluminium and rubber watch.
Ahead, Steve Aoki talks to BAZAAR about working with Bvlgari, his creative process and what the future holds for him.
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ON HIS COLLABORATION WITH BVLGARI
“I love collaborating outside my space across different worlds and cultures, and this has been one of the highest calibers of the meeting of the minds I’ve ever been a part of—period,” he says.
Aoki also talked about how, unlike his previous collaborations which were done mostly via emails or WhatsApp messages, the process of designing this watch was a more hands-on experience. “Back when I was in Japan before the pandemic hit, I was meeting with Bvlgari’s Japanese team and we were talking and going over the details of what the basic ideas of the watch are. And then I flew to Milan, specifically to meet with their headquarters team to start mapping out our idea,” he explains. “It’s such a unique partnership that it requires both of us to really be in a room together.”.
“I love being challenged, and Bvlgari challenges me. We wanted to create something disruptive that would make people want to stop and look. I’m the same way when it comes to my live shows. It’s all about being disruptive.”
So what’s so special about the Bvlgari Aluminium Steve Aoki Special Edition watch, you ask? Well, apart from its 40mm aluminium case (with a diamond-like carbon); titanium case back; 100m water-resistance; and rubber bezel engraved with the Steve Aoki logo; the watch also features a superluminova white dial that glows in the dark—perfect for a night out in the clubs.
“My world is all about nightlife—clubs, festivals, you name it. We wanted to exude this kind of energy in the watch design—it’s the first thing we talked about—and decided that it needs to have a superluminova element and be bright at night,” he explains. “It’s like an energy kickstarter that signifies it’s time to party.”
ON HIS CREATIVE PROCESS
When it comes to creating something—be it music or in this case, a watch—Aoki doesn’t believe in wondering what the market wants. “First and foremost, it has to move me. I need the hairs on my arms to raise and feel my heart pounding. Once I’m there, I can exercise that out to the world.”
To him, the hardest part of the creative process is learning when to let go. “The process is actually kind of smooth, but the part where you’re like ‘okay, this moves me, I’m ready to let go,’ can be the most difficult.”
He then went on to talk about the similarities between making music and watches. “It’s very similar in the collaborative spirit,” he says. “I think it’s very important to drop your ego and allow a different energy to emerge—you have to be open minded and take off the blinders. I like that challenge.”
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ON WHY NFTS ARE THE FUTURE
After conquering the worlds of music, fashion and now luxury timepieces, Aoki has his sights set on the next big thing: Non-fungible tokens. “NFTs are the future of where we’re going with digital collectibles,” he says.
“In the next five year, digital things that don’t exist in the real world are going to be the most important assets that we have. And because of that, you’ll have an incredible investment portfolio or art and collectibles that actually have value. That’s why people are so hard into that [crypto] space. Sooner or later, everything will have a smart contract—that is inevitable.”
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“As a creator, I need to predict where culture is going. This way, whatever I put into the world will be ahead of what people are thinking about. I love seeing something that’s going to happen, be part of the creative process and innovate.”