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Presented by logo Homo Faber by Michelangelo Foundation
Explore Discover Visit Experience Itineraries About
Gabor Kiss©Michelangelo Foundation
Gabor Kiss©Michelangelo Foundation
Toshiko Hirai©Akiko Hirai Ceramics Atelier Ltd.
Gabor Kiss©Michelangelo Foundation

Akiko Hirai

  • Ceramicist
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Master Artisan
Akiko Hirai Ceramicist
Dan Fontanelli©Akiko Hirai Ceramics Atelier Ltd.

Surprising textures and glazes

  • • Akiko combines Japanese techniques with contemporary design
  • • Her work is displayed in museums worldwide
  • • In 2019, she was shortlisted for the Loewe Craft Prize

After graduating in Cognitive Psychology at the Aichi Gakuin University, Akiko Hirai worked in advertising but very quickly she discovered it wasn’t for her. "I didn’t like the company, the job or my colleagues," she says. Looking for a change in her life, at the beginning of the millennium, Akiko Hirai left Japan for London. Here she perfected her English and she enrolled as an adult learner in a pottery course. Now, 20 years later, she is one of the United Kingdom's leading potters. Combining traditional Japanese methods and contemporary design, she works with rough dark clay using different building techniques. Multiple layers of glazes and slips in lighter tones are then applied to pieces that are deeply textured and wonderfully complex.

Read the full interview

Works

  • Toshiko Hirai©Akiko Hirai Ceramics Atelier Ltd.
  • Toshiko Hirai©Akiko Hirai Ceramics Atelier Ltd.
  • Toshiko Hirai©Akiko Hirai Ceramics Atelier Ltd.
  • Toshiko Hirai©Akiko Hirai Ceramics Atelier Ltd.
  • Toshiko Hirai©Akiko Hirai Ceramics Atelier Ltd.
Photo: Toshiko Hirai©Akiko Hirai Ceramics Atelier Ltd.
The Moon Jar No 3

This decorative ceramic jar is handcrafted from a combination of stoneware and porcelain. The sculptural jar has been coated with several layers of glaze, creating a purposefully uneven surface.

Height 56 cm
Width 55 cm

Photo: Toshiko Hirai©Akiko Hirai Ceramics Atelier Ltd.
The Moon Jar No 4

This decorative ceramic jar is handcrafted from a combination of stoneware and porcelain. The sculptural jar has been coated with several layers of glaze, creating a purposefully uneven surface.

Height 52 cm
Width 46 cm

Photo: Toshiko Hirai©Akiko Hirai Ceramics Atelier Ltd.
Sakura

This large ceramic plate is handcrafted stoneware. The surface of the plate has been decorated with a wood ash glaze, where ash is placed on the plate during the firing, imbuing the plate with colours and textures from the ash.

Height 8 cm
Width 35 cm

Photo: Toshiko Hirai©Akiko Hirai Ceramics Atelier Ltd.
Khoikhoi Bowl

This hand coiled functional serving bowl has been handcrafted from stoneware. The bowl is finished with a white slip and transparent glaze coating.

Height 12 cm
Width 20 cm

Photo: Toshiko Hirai©Akiko Hirai Ceramics Atelier Ltd.
Sakura

This large hand-built bowl is crafted from stoneware. The shaped bowl is decorated with engobes and transparent glaze.

Height 20 cm
Width 35 cm

Find Akiko Hirai in the itinerary

London: a day around the Thames through the eyes of a craft expert
10 locations
While spending time in London, come and discover the recommendations of independent curator and craft expert Brian Kennedy. This itinerary will guide you through his selection of 10 craftspeople and galleries around the capital.
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