Shino Takeda arrived to New York to become a dancer, but fate had other plans for her. Raised in the Japanese region of Kyushu, which has a big tradition of ceramics and art, and by a mother with a passion for both, she ended up continuing her heritage with the modern twist of NYC. All her pieces are versatile hand-made pottery which are born from the imperfections of life. Shino creates ceramics from the heart, making honesty and closeness the biggest charm of her beautiful pieces.
You grew up surrounded by ceramics, how did you see them as a child?
I saw them as something my mom was passionate about, that made our dinning table fun, something I could see the season in, and something I thought really cool. But it wasn't special. It was part of our regular daily life.
How was the process from there to actually creating ceramics?
I have always collected ceramics, but I had never touched clay. It happened about five years ago. I lost three young friends and realized that life is short, and wanted to do something I was always interested in. I was interested in three things: Glass, metal and ceramic. Ceramic was the cheapest and easiest to try out... Also, I always make steam clam and I couldn't find a bowl I liked. I fell in love immediately. All I wanted to do was to make ceramic!
When did you move to the US? What was the change like?
I moved to NY in 1997 to pursuit dance, but obviously it didn't work for me! I didn't speak English at all, but I clearly remember that I was very comfortable from day one. I don't think I felt the change, I was just very excited.
When you make a piece of ceramics, do you consider how and where it will be used?
I have my own ideas, but I want people to use their imagination. A sake cup can be used as a flower vase on the side of a dinner plate, to leave the olive pits or maybe as a ring holder right next to the sink,...
Your work seems partly a search for a slower rhythm of living, with an attention to details and an emphasis on the inherent imperfection of all things human-made. How does this fit with the fast pace of NY? Is it your small act of resistance?
I do feel like my year flies by, but if I look at my life, I can see no rush or stress at all. I make ceramics all day. Sometimes I take time off to do some other creative thing, like going to see a show, doing some cooking or spending a day with my friend in the sauna. NY moves at such a fast pace, but one can always create one's own speed. My work is more like the reflection of my life/time.
I guess for many of us, ceramics is a very foreign way of creating. How is the process from having an idea to creating the actual piece? How do you translate an inspiration or concept to a piece of ceramics?
For me it just happens naturally, and in a very visual way. I see/hear/feel something beautiful or interesting and right away I have a ceramic picture in my head. Very instantaneous, there's not much thinking. If I see that picture it's not so difficult to make it come true. My shapes are so organic that it's not complicated.
You create a lot of tableware and work at a restaurant too. Both in cutlery and food, the west and Japan are very different, what do you take of each?
I think glazing is just like cooking without recipe. You have to understand the basic flavor and play around hoping the combination works. By the way, I left the restaurant two years ago- I am officially a full time ceramicist!
What are your favourite colours to dispose on a plate?
I don't really have any favorite, but I don't like translucent colors at all.
Can you tell us a bit about the Supper Clubs your group Katakana organises? It sounds so lovely!
The project is to be aware of the seasonal changes and variety in nature. A place to explore culture, tastes and aesthetics. Not only by eating seasonal ingredients, but also seeing the season on the plate through our custom-made ceramic. It's also a very good opportunity to meet people!
Your wood fire project has a very timeworn feeling, as if they were pieces of antique pottery dug out of some ruins. How did you create them?
When I do wood fired, I'd say I leave it up to the God of Fire. Of course depending on where you put in the kiln it will make a different effect but I don't put any glaze. The ash flying in the kiln makes amazing results. You don't really know what will happen until you open the kiln. I like these kind of gambles!
What do you draw inspiration from?
Nature around me. Things I see like the sky, the ocean, birds, forests, trees, the sounds I hear, even heat gives me color inspiration. Every day has different colors. Outside my world and inside me. I always try to capture that.
Is there any project you have planned for the future? Or one that you would love to produce?
I want to make more wood fired pieces and turn that into conceptual work with different material.