On a recent fall afternoon, we visited OVO ceramics founder, Yuka Uchida, at her Brooklyn studio, where we chatted about her practice and the ceramics she created exclusively for our New York and Japan stores. A former architect in Japan, Yuka transitioned to the fine arts, specifically printmaking and pottery, after she moved to the United States. In 2013, she created OVO ceramics, allowing her to combine her sensibilities in both craft and design.
Can you give us the background of OVO ceramics? When did it start and where?
OVO ceramics was established in 2013 and is based in Brooklyn. My previous profession revolves around architectural design but moving to the United States spurred an interest in the fine arts, which I pursued in my studies of printmaking and pottery. After developing an interest in product design, I established OVO ceramics, enabling me to combine my newfound interest in craft and my inherent affinity for design.
What is it about ceramics that attracted you to the medium? Do you have a trademark aesthetic?
My style is minimal but unusual. I love the color and smooth feel of porcelain, so I focus on an unglazed surface with a variety of textures, while taking advantage of the natural, rich white warmth that exudes from the material.
You originally started out as an architect—how has that background informed your practice as a ceramicist?
In architectural work, design has to be developed in reflection to rules, marketing, and a lot of other aspects. However, ceramics work is much less restricted and more focused on my own creativity. Also, a lot of the unexpected happens during the process. When I started pottery, I drew with measurement—top, side, and bottom view. My instructor laughed at me and said clay was not going to work like this, which is interesting and the hardest part.
What would you say your design principles and influences are?
I usually find motifs such as cloth, water drop, and marble. I love focusing on matte unglazed surfaces, which creates rich white warmth in a minimal design. Softness from the finish and lightness from the shape is the OVO ceramics point of view.
What do you think constitutes good design?
For tableware design, it depends on the situation or purpose. Balance is important to me. Not too boring, not too much.
When creating the pieces for the Noah store, was there anything you incorporated from the identity of the Noah brand?
The shape is the same as the OVO line, except it’s adjusted in size and the color is original for NOAH, which is the most important part of this collaboration. NOAH uses a lot of color in both products and stores, but, at the same time, with a sense of calm. We discussed green and gray-blue, and I’m so happy with the resulting combination.
Can you tell us about the technique you used in creating the pieces for the Noah store?
“Nerikomi” is one of my signature techniques in OVO products. This technique is originally from Japan. The color is made from stained porcelain that goes through to the other side so it’s not just painted on the surface. It becomes a much more complicated process and harder to create shapes without cracking.
What is a special quality about OVO ceramics that you would like people to know about?
OVO ceramics specialises in porcelain, capitalizing on the innate rich white warmth of the material. Tableware products can be found in the “Hagire” (meaning piece of fabric) collection, which is a signature line. This collection includes a variety of textures such as linen, cotton, and burlap. And various patterns such as checkered and striped (using the Nerikomi technique) are available. Products in this collection are characterized by the merging of fabric and porcelain. The intent is to create a sense of wrapping a meal or beverage in fabric.
Do you have any studio rituals? Specific music you listen to? Or things you do before you start your day?
I listen to all kinds of music. Depends on my mood. Up tempo is better for production and slow music is better for designing. I sometimes go to Prospect Park and stretch my body or get coffee at the same cafe every day, then start working. That’s my routine. I love to do my creating in Brooklyn. I feel cozy and comfortable with a quiet atmosphere, but also many simulations.
How do you see your ceramics evolving to in the future?
We are excited to announce that OVO ceramics will be launching new materials. OVO is using a Japanese recycled green tea-dyed fabric from Shizuoka (Japan is renowned for its green tea industry) for a new line of placements, coasters, and wooden tableware.