Tokyo based potter Yuko Matsuzuka creates ceramic tableware. It doesn't resemble the typical Japanese style, but it still conveys the essence of Japanese aesthetics.
Yuko studied industrial design, specializing in pottery, at Musashino Art University. She initially chose interior design, but changed to pottery because she realized that she wanted to make things by hand. Yuko said that she felt a strong sense of satisfaction through using her hands when she first made a pottery piece. “That sense of enjoyment has led me to where I am now.”
Being a potter, she works quietly in her studio most of the time. She said that this way of working fits her personality well. She continues to create ceramics because it is a pleasant experience. She said that when she thinks about the purpose of her work, she feels it is about living happily, because she loves what she does.
After graduating university, she continued to create her ceramics while she was lecturing in pottery at a university in Kobe. At the same time, she worked under a Tanba ware pottery master. Yuko then established her own studio in Tokyo in 2010.
Yuko said that her ceramic style is changing over time, although her own personal taste has not changed much. She wants to try to make something new. "It is like water," she said. "If it stays at the same point, it becomes muddy." She follows new paths so that she can see new views.
However, Yuko’s basic concept is firm. It is to create tableware that people can use in their daily lives for a long time. Her ceramic style is oriented towards the modern way of living, and mixes the East and West. It is a modern design approach, yet elements of ancient Greek and Roman ceramic styles in her work also evoke strongly nostalgic feelings.
We spent the afternoon at her studio. Her studio is in a quiet residential area in Tokyo. It is a place where you can witness people’s daily lives. Yuko cares about small things. She notices the changing colors of the seasons, or how she feels, for example. The creation of her ceramic works is influenced by these small things. It is like writing a poem. When she moves her hands, she imagines a small scene like the small bud of a little flower, or the changing color of the sky, intending to evoke these senses or feelings through her tableware.
The traditional Japanese found beauty in small things, such as bonsai, a miniature tree in a pot, or haiku, Japanese poetry. Yuko also sees the beauty in small things. While her tableware doesn't resemble a typical Japanese style, it is created with a strong sense of Japanese beauty.
Tableware is used everyday. There is a story at every dining table. She has a good memory of her family's tableware from her childhood. Yuko wants to create tableware that is not used as a consumable, or used briefly, but is inherited by the next generation. She said that she feels deeply honored if someone can enjoy her tableware for a long period of time. She makes the type of tableware that people can remember for a long time and hand on from generation to generation.
Inspired by her own pleasant childhood memories, Yuko's ceramics bring a warm experience to your dining table. She hopes that her ceramics will enable you to create your own pleasant memories.