Akiko Hirai initially studied cognitive psychology in Japan, gaining her degree before coming to England. During her first visit, to study English, she was attracted by the multicultural society and complexity of London, which made her aware of her own cultural influences, in terms of her visual perception. Her interests led to a second visit in 1999, when she met many English potters and learned how to work with clay. Soon afterwards she took a degree course in ceramics at the University of Westminster, before completing her studies at Central Saint Martins. Following graduation, she founded her studio in The Chocolate Factory N16 in Stoke Newington, where she now practises her ceramic work alongside other artists of varying disciplines.
Akiko makes practical ware using the Japanese tradition of allowing the clay itself to “show” how it wants to be fired. Her work also allows viewers to discover the language of the objects in their own individual ways. She focuses on the interaction between the objects and the viewers.
Akiko’s work is now internationally acclaimed, with commissions worldwide.