An interview with ceramicist Reiko Kaneko

Another Pulse Launchpad exhibitor, Reiko Kaneko spoke to me about what makes her tick... Reiko Kaneko

What’s the most important thing to know about you?

I'm quietly spoken... but pretty determined.

Reiko Kaneko train set egg cups

Describe a really good day and a really bad day in the life of the Reiko Kaneko.

A good day would be to wake up by the light of the morning. It would involve interesting impassioned chats with other creative people in other disciplines. Learning, sharing ideas and excitement are all ingredients for a great day. A bad day would be to hunch over my laptop late into the night doing detailed 3d work – you get the idea.

Reiko Kaneko natural angle

What inspires your ideas?

I try to be observant which is something I learned at college. I find the food and dining industry very inspiring and exciting at the moment.

Reiko Kaneko 3 animals

Describe the process you go though to turn your ideas into products.

I turn sketches and ideas straight to 3d modelling programmes on the computer. This is as far as most designs go but of the ones that see the light of day, I work with 3d printers, or model makers in Stoke on Trent who add a human touch to the designs. The model makers, mould makers and casters all contribute a wealth of experience and knowledge into bringing a new shape to life. You never really know how it will work out, because it is mud at the end of the day and easily collapsible in the heat of the kiln. Even they admit they can never predict how clay will behave at times. That's the beauty and curse of working with such an earthy material.

Reiko Kaneko petal bowls


What advice would you give to an aspiring ceramicist?

Spend time to develop your style and reach out to as many people as possible.

Reiko Kaneko petal bowl

Desert island design, which three items could you not live without?

A staple-less stapler from Japan. A piece of ingenuity that keeps paper together in an origami inspired way. A teapot, and a rather obvious one - my Mac laptop. It’s sad, but do I actually wonder if I could live without it.

Reiko Kaneko 3 cups bright drips

What are you most proud of?

I like some of the more subtle pieces like the Arctic jug or Bamboo Twist sake cup. There’s a sense of balance and a tactile quality to it you can’t envisage on the 3d programmes when you’re designing it.

Reiko Kaneko Drip eggcups

What’s next for you?

I’m in the midst of a move to Stoke on Trent. I’ll be where the action is in terms of bone china in this country, which is very exciting. I’m hoping to expand the range further and start looking into different finishings and glazes - as well as experimenting with various ideas bouncing that are around my head at the moment.

In the meantime, I’m busy with commissioned work for restaurants. And off the back of that, I’m working on some personal, experimental projects with creative people who specialise in other interesting fields.

Reiko Kaneko arctic jugs

And, finally, what’s your favourite colour?!

That’s a difficult question for a designer. Generally, I like the bright fresh tones of bluey turquoise. I also love natural wooden tones – everything from light and fragrant Japanese ceder to fire-y tones of rose wood. If we’re talking ceramic glazes, I get lost in the libraries of glazing supplies.