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Japanese student Yuka Kikumoto chose Staffordshire University – in the heart of The Potteries – to study MA Ceramic Design and launch a career making “indispensable and enriching objects”. She has displayed her work in prestigious exhibitions in the UK, Turkey and Japan, sold items in galleries and shops, and won an international award.
“My goal is to be a world famous designer-maker,” Yuka said. “My influence and inspiration comes from a rich cultural background in Japan. I am proud to be Japanese; my work reflects my country, identity and culture.
“My passion for industrial ceramic design brought me to the UK. I researched many universities about studying ceramics and found out only Staffordshire University’s MA Ceramic Design course specialised in industrial ceramic design – that’s why I chose it.”
Yuka, 33, finished her MA in March 2016 and plans to remain in the UK to continue showcasing her work at exhibitions and in workshops. She recently took a paid internship at Royal Crown Derby, a manufacturer of high quality fine bone china. She also teaches Japanese and Mathematics at Derby Japanese School and works as an assistant at renowned ceramic design studio Reiko Kaneko.
She has already participated in numerous shows including New Designers, Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Innovations in Ceramic Art, Ceramic in the City, Handmade in Britain and, most recently, one of the world’s biggest trade fairs, Ambiente.
Ambiente takes place in Frankfurt, Germany, with over 130,000 visitors from 150 countries. Yuka won the opportunity to display her ceramics at the show after participating in the annual Future Lights International Ceramics Competition, which was hosted by Staffordshire University in 2015.
She said: “I got the Future Light award last October, which gave me the opportunity to display my work with others from all over the world. In the past three years I’ve taken part in 18 exhibitions in the UK, Turkey and Japan. I’ve sold many items at the exhibitions and I’ve also had the chance to sell in galleries and shops. I produced bespoke plates and bowls for Japanese restaurant Jidori, in London, who are selling my works and using original pieces for customers.”
Ceramic design studio
As well as home, in Japan, Yuka takes inspiration from her surroundings and the practical use of the items she is producing. “The motive for my works come from the natural world, such as mountains, sky and culture. I am creating stunning contemporary ceramic designs by using slipcast techniques to create functional tableware and pushing the boundaries of everyday kitchenware. All my works concentrate on how people actually use objects but I consider most items need to have more than one use.”
Already possessing experience of ceramic design before joining Staffordshire University, Yuka developed her skills during the course. She said: “My ceramics combine processes and techniques from craft and industrial ceramic design. An element of the Ceramic Design course I particularly enjoyed was making plaster models and moulds because I am able to change my designs by hand.
“I chose the MA Ceramic Design course after seeing graduate design students’ works on the University website. I visited and talked with my professor and felt it gave me a good opportunity to be a professional designer-maker. I want to build my own design company and make indispensable and enriching objects for people’s lives.”