Reiko Kaneko Collection

Profiles: Reiko Kaneko

Reiko KanekoHomegirl London pays homage to Reiko Kaneko.  Maker of quirky, fun giftware ceramics and Japanese inspired tableware.  She takes her business so seriously that she even relocated to the home of ceramics in Stoke on Trent to focus on quality manufacturing.  Aside from making ascetically pleasing pieces, she’s very much interested in the psychological effects that table and serve ware can have on our eating experience.

Her collection is quite extensive and includes surprising shapes, like her angular Petal Bowls and clever products like her Breakfast Express – a ceramic train set providing everything you need to enjoy a boiled egg.  Her work is mainly in white ceramic with touches of gold or platinum but she also has some colourful pieces.  I caught up with Reiko to find out more …

Q: Tell me about your design background.

A: I studied at the Kingston Foundation which really opened my eyes to the creative world and then went to Central Saint Martins.  After this, and various internships in press and design companies, I took on part time work until my designs started to take off.

Q: Why set up your business?

A: I guess I always wanted to have my own business.  At college I tailored my products in to things I may be able to sell to test the market.  Initially, I wanted the company so that I had an outlet to design and express my ideas but its meandered and now has a different life and purpose.

Q: Where are you based and why?

A: I moved the studio to Stoke on Trent last year from the East End of London in search of ceramics expertise and knowledge.  It is after all at the heart of British ceramics and on the surface you don’t see it but there’s a rabbit warren of small workshops and skilled people here.

Reiko Kaneko Collection

Reiko Kaneko Ceramics

Q: How many people work at your company?

A: I work with a small team looking after the operations and a part time ceramicist.  I also outsource the pots, modelling and moulds to the local community.

Q: Describe your design style.

A: Fun giftware and elegant tableware with an edge.

Cluster Vase, Reiko Kaneko

Cluster Vase, £84

Breakfast Express Train Reiko Kaneko

Breakfast Express Salt and Pepper Cellar £20, Toast Rack £20, Egg Cup £20

Q: Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

A: I love modernist architecture but also from furniture that makes the most of natural beauty like the work of George Nakashima.  I’m also interested in current research into flavour perception and the experience of dining.

Teaware Collection, Reiko Kaneko

Teaware Collection

Q: What’s your fascination with ceramics?

A: Growing up in Japan, you’re exposed to the careful consideration and care taken with matching ceramic vessels to certain food according to size, colour, seasons etc.  Each member of the family chooses their rice bowl and sticks to it.  These days, I’m interested in how best to offer a range of plates and bowls but taking in to consideration how it will affect the taste and flavour of whatever’s on it.  For example, Dr Charles Spence’s findings include how hot chocolate seems chocolatier out of an orange vessel, or how using heavy spoons make the food seem creamier.  It’s quite fascinating and I would like to look more and more into this.

Q: Tell me about your collections.

A: I’m expanding on the range of Boat Plates and Bowls – the Boat Bowls have been very popular as the contrast between the cold, elegant china and natural rope comes across.  The Petal Bowls collection is one of my favourites.  The mix of sharp lines and curves create a strong, un-collapsible shape in the kiln and the point is a nice handle to hold on to when cradling the bowl for my cereal in the morning.

Boat Plate, Reiko Kaneko

Boat Plate, £20

Boat Bowls, Reiko Kaneko

Boat Bowl, £120

Petal Bowls Reiko Kaneko

Petal Bowl, £28

Q: Which designer do you admire and why?

A: George Nakashima.  I love his philosophy towards his material and craft.  He was a Japanese architect and furniture maker based in America.  For me, his furniture has a timeless beauty and elegance.

Q: What’s the best thing about owning your own business?

A: Meeting interesting and like-minded people.

Q: What one piece of advice would you pass on to someone wanting to set up their own business?

A: Write down a plan and undertake it step by step.

Q: What’s coming up for the rest of 2013?

A: We’re working on many new tableware plates and bowls for launch at Maison et Objet in September.  There are a lot of experimentations going on with glazes and colour.

If you want to find out more about Reiko or buy her products go to Reiko Kaneko.  Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Reiko Kaneko and special thanks to David Gorrod.