“Japan’s Brand Trivia” Vol. 3: The aesthetic sensibility of Giselle Go and Philippe Terrien, founders of DAMDAM, a skincare brand made with Japanese craftsmanship

Being made in Japan functions as one of the important criteria for consumers to select products, just as the beauty in design, functionality, trendiness, and standardness does. In this series, we focus on and introduce a variety of “Made in Japan” products and creations in line with two keywords from TOKION’s statement: “cutting edge” and “social-fullness.” This time, we spoke to Giselle Go, the co-founder of DAMDAM, a skincare brand she founded with Philippe Terrien. The brand specializes in Japanese ingredients and craftsmanship. She talked about unique Made in Japan items that extend beyond the co-founders’ lifestyle. The items speak to their aesthetic sensibility, which they cultivated from working at the forefront of the fashion industry.

——Why are Made in Japan items valuable and appealing?

Giselle Go: The level of craftsmanship is extremely high. Whether it’s in my personal or professional life, when I’m involved with craftsmen and artists who create things, I’m always impressed by their commitment. That’s why Made in Japan products are excellent. Another thing is how people value old things. For instance, intriguing concepts like kintsugi are unique to Japan. Japan is an advanced country. Various businesses and devices naturally exist in our everyday lives, and we could witness the technical skills that way, too. Also, it’s remarkable just how handmade products are appreciated. You could enjoy them in different places like specialty stores and galleries.

——What’s the difference between things made in Japan and abroad? What are the pros? 

Giselle: I feel like the difference is the speed. Japan’s a little bit slow. However, the level of commitment is impressive, so the slowness isn’t a demerit. They make things by paying attention to the details. They create the perfect product. That’s what makes “Made in Japan” great. I feel like that’s the difference between Japan and other countries. Even if it takes time, the finished product is perfect. That allows us, the client, to feel secure and assured. The belief that Made in Japan products equate to reliability comes from there.  

——You openly share how you started DAMDAM and also introduce Japanese craftsmanship outside of skincare. Could you talk about that? 

Giselle: I had worked in the glamorous fashion world for a long time, but I wanted to do something creative in a different field. I had always been interested in skincare and wanted to produce interesting products after looking at traditional Japanese craftsmanship once again. So, I manifested that desire into DAMDAM. We love traveling and have a big collection of pottery from other countries and different parts of Japan. Last year, we went to Yamanashi, Nagano, Shiga, Kyoto, Nara, and Shikoku by car and had many lovely encounters. We started DAMDAM [Atelier] because we wanted to introduce the craftsmen and artists we met to others. With DAMDAM [Atelier], not only do we create DAMDAM products, but we also collaborate with artists to come up with and introduce products to many people by hosting pop-up shops. In the future, I hope to foster a space where people can share the experience of touching and feeling things.

Utilizing Japanese ingredients that have been passed down for generations.

DAMDAM is very dear to me, as it’s the first time I manifested something I had imagined. We use Japanese materials that we use every day to create DAMDAM products. For example, we use malted rice made from rice, Kaolinite used in ceramics, shiso, konjac, and so on. We eat rice every day and drink shiso as tea all year round; that’s how integral these are to us. I started DAMDAM because I wanted to handpick Japanese ingredients that have been cherished and passed down to generations for a long time and use them as materials for skincare. Everything is Made in Japan, from developing ingredients at a Japanese lab we can trust to the packaging. I like the aroma and comfort of our shiso-infused shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, which we released in September.  

An incense holder by Noguchi Kansai conceptualized from pottery from the Jomon era 

This is an incense holder made by Noguchi Kansai. We sold it for the third volume of DAMDAM [Atelier]. Incense sticks have a purifying and relaxing effect. I always burn incense I like at home. I had always been a fan of potter Noguchi Kansai. I like his Jomon pottery-inspired shapes and how he works with a unique technique. I like everything. I became acquainted with him when I went to his solo exhibition and bought a vase for Philippe’s birthday. Our friendship started there. I like how modern the design is, with its black and white color scheme. It’s pretty how it looks like an art piece.

Our vacation home in Miura Peninsula is our special place with a fantastic view of the ocean 

I wanted a vacation home where I could recharge myself, even if it’s only on the weekend. I spent several years looking for one until I found this one in Miura. We bought an old Japanese-style house and renovated it. The garden is still incomplete, but we’re planning on slowly completing it by gardening, painting, and using our hands to build a space. When the weather is good, we could gaze at Mount Fuji, and there’s a vast ocean right in front. We can watch the beautiful sunset and directly feel nature’s sounds and smells. We love traveling and going to different places, but we’re also content with spending time here to unwind and relax. And, of course, we can rejuvenate ourselves to start another week! This place has the necessary time and space for us to develop and come up with new products. 

Giselle Go
Giselle Go is the former chief editor of Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore. Alongside Philippe Terrien, who works in PR and consulting, she founded DAMDAM, a skincare brand. DAMDAM’s products are all Made in Japan, from the manufacturing to the packaging stage. From June, the major French makeup retailer Sephora started carrying the brand.


Mai Okuhara

Editor and writer.After working for MATOI PUBLISHING, which produced "M girl" and "QUOTATION", she became independent. Currently, she focuses on editing, writing, planning content for fashion brands and companies, copywriting, and commercial production. He also considers communication planning and community building as a part of editing and media, and is working on a wide range of activities. Instagram:@maiokuhara39