Women We Love:
Shino Takeda

Friends & Family

Dec 18th, 2017

Photography by Jessica Antola

Every day has different colors inside and outside of me. All I have to do is to immerse my senses to those impressions and try to capture them in my ceramics.

Shino Takeda

Shino Takeda is a ceramicist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Influenced by her upbringing in Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, her ceramics embody her feelings of sight, touch, taste, and sound from the changing seasons. We visited Shino at her apartment to discuss her process, inspirations, and how her collaborations are like an old-school dance battle.

Bird Brooklyn: How long have you been making ceramics? How did you get started and where did you first learn? What types of glazes and firing and clay do you primarily use?

Shino Takeda: I started the summer of 2010 at Togei in midtown Manhattan. I took a day trial class, and fell in love. I've pretty much gone to the studio everyday since then. I like earthy stoneware, and use anything and everything to get colors, like underglaze, pencils, slip, etc.. The majority of my work is made in Brooklyn, using an electric kiln which really brings out lots of colors! I also travel upstate and to Japan to work with a wood-fired kiln, a process which has been around for thousands of years. I like leaving the end result up to nature (wood, fire) and enjoy every “happy accident”.

BB: You are known for your amazing use of color and the painting and drawing you do on each piece, making each creation one-of-a-kind. How do you decide which piece gets which design? Is it pre-meditated or very organic?
ST: My glazing process is very open and I think of it like my daily diary, so yes it's a very organic process. It represents what’s happening around me, how am I feeling, the season, sounds, smells, everything gives me so much inspiration. Every day has different colors inside and outside of me. All I have to do is to immerse my senses to those impressions and try to capture them in my ceramics.

BB: What's your process in the studio? How do you work? I think you said something about hip-hop being your main source of musical motivation?
ST: Ahahaha...yes...I listen to LOUD music on my big headphones!! I can't work without music. When I am making shapes, I love listening to Radiohead. When I am glazing, I like to listen classic hip hop and funk. But I switch around sometimes and the results are totally noticeable!  When I listened to the Cyndi Lauper station on Pandora, the series took on its own personality which is full of light and popping energy.

BB: All of your projects and collaborations are very organic and personal. How do most of your collaborations come about? What's the favorite project you are working on now?
ST: When I meet someone who has a similar understanding and value of life and beauty, but has quite a different style, I become very interested in creating something new with them. But I don’t like to discuss or plan. I do my part and I want them to do their part without hesitations. More like an old-school dance battle! Right now I am collaborating with a Japanese carpenter. We are making tables using my tiles! As you can see, my work is all about momentum and being loose. His work is very elegant and calculated. So I am super excited to see how it turns out.

BB: You have been experimenting with some larger vessels as well as tiles for the home. Should we expect to see more of a move towards creating pieces that can be incorporated into the physical design of a space?
ST: I have always enjoyed making small things, but lately I've been having a lot of bigger vessels. It is challenging, to focus for longer and have to see a bigger picture. Definitely larger projects push me forward, I have to learn new techniques and have even learned new things about myself. My life is full of enjoyment and freedom, so it is good to have these kind of challenges.

BB: Do you have a uniform inside the studio? Is it similar to or different from how you dress outside the studio? Though it seems like you are always working ha! What are some of your favorite designers?
ST: I am too lazy to change my clothes inside the studio, but conveniently I love jumpsuits and denim shirts which make great workwear. Most of my clothes are vintage, but I LOVE Ilana Kohn‘s jumpsuits!!! I wear them all the time!!

BB: How long have you lived in Brooklyn? How long have you lived in your apartment? What's your favorite things about living in Bed Stuy?
ST: I have lived in Brooklyn for 21 years and I moved to this apartment back in 2006. On the street where I live, we have a music block party every Saturday night at the local auto repair. It's like old Brooklyn, right?!

BB: Every surface and wall and shelf is full of art and found objects and collections of things that you have found all over the world. How would you describe your approach to decorating and how do you organize it all?
ST: Plants get their favorite spots first! When I get a new painting or drawing, it takes me 1-3 minutes to figure out where I want it to hang...so not much thinking! Probably 80% of the artwork is from my friends, the rest are pieces I have found or things that I have traded with other artists. For objects, I have more rules.

BB: Tell us a bit about the beautiful curtains custom made by your sister?
ST: She took a half year to make them ha, but it was so worth the wait! They are made following a traditional Korean technique. It is a sheer curtain, and every little square of fabric is hand-stitched to the big main fabric. It blocks the view from outside at night, but it lets in amazing light in the afternoon like stained glass--so beautiful!!

BB: You are headed back home to Japan for the next six weeks. Can you tell us a few of your favorite places to go or things to do/see/eat in Tokyo right now?
ST: Paddlers Coffee in Shibuya is my favorite coffee shop where I do a pop-up every Christmas. 

Shino's ceramics are available at our Culvery City store for the holidays!