If you like contemporary ceramics, you most likely know who Akio Nukaga is. His signature line, “pleated work”, is rustic and modern, simple and beautiful, tactile and practical. It is nearly impossible to find his pottery online because they are all sold out, so you have to find his secret exhibitions if you want to get your hands on his work. This goes for any popular potters in Japan by the way.
So the word on the street was that he is holding a tiny solo exhibition at Starnet Tokyo over the weekend. No way I was going to miss this opportunity.
Starnet Tokyo is the branch of the houseware shop in Mashiko town, which is next to Kasama town where Nukaga's kiln is. As a side note, Kasama town is known for pottery from the late 18th century, and it has been developed as one of the leading pottery in the country.
So... the minute I walked into the Starnet Tokyo, I became a kid in the candy shop. Bowls and cups were spread out on the table casually, and as I started to hold his work in my hand, I started to fall in love with every one of them.
so who is Akio Nukaga? Here is a quick break down - After graduating from college (textile design major), he was working as a carpenter. During this time, he became aware of the joy of craftsmanship, and when his friend introduced him to the world of pottery, he loved it so much that he decided to become a trainee at Ceramics Technology Office in Kasama town. He then continued to study at Kozan kiln in the same town, and became an independent potter when he opened his own studio in the early 90s.
The rest was history. He won many prestigious craft awards in Japan, and soon became ‘the master of traditional craft’ of Kasama ware.
While he was a trainee, he entirely focused on improving his technical skills and did not pay attention too much on his artistic sense. I say it's probably because he already had a great artistic sense to begin with, but he says the creativity and personality will shine through your work naturally, and it is up to the end users to decide whether or not they appreciate your work.
He also believes that his works are meant for everyday use even if it means them getting chipped or worn out. In Japan, there is an appreciation for how appearance of natural materials change with time and use. I absolutely love this mentality...
So there will be another exhibition at Starnet next week, but at main shop in Mashiko city. As of now, I'm just sincerely happy to just stare at the items that I brought home with me. Yes I will make sure that they are available for you, too.
For the mean time, check out his masterful techniques of pottery making:
Yup - he's the man.