Influenced by her Japanese heritage, Akiko Hirai uses various types of clay and building techniques to create complex textures and tones in her ceramics. While her firing method mimics the materials’ ageing process, her pieces are also perfectly rooted in contemporary design.
In addition to throwing, coiling and casting, Akiko applies several layers of slips and glazes to create the complex texture and tones for each ceramic surface. The large-scale works are fired using the reduction atmosphere in her gas kiln.
Instead of using coloured oxides to decorate her work, Hirai uses metal and mineral-rich clays alongside marginal metal and mineral content of other raw materials, creating colours that occur from the chemical reaction during the firing process.
Hirai initially trained privately at the studio of British potter, Chris Bramble, in 1999, before studying for a degree in Ceramic Design at Central St Martins, graduating in 2003. Between 2005 and 2015, she taught at Kensington and Chelsea College, eventually rising to Head of the Ceramics Department.
Her work is held in private collections and displayed in museums worldwide including the V&A, The Fitzwilliam Museum, the National Museum of Ireland and the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY.