Reiko Kaneko designs bone china steeped in the English tradition, but with a Japanese twist. She established her design studio in London’s East End in 2007, after studying Arts and Design at Central St. Martin’s College. Kaneko’s Friday Five gives us a glimpse into her world of modern-day London, and illuminates her Japanese roots.
1. The Food Experience
It’s exciting in the restaurant and dining world at the moment. Pop-up restaurants and food are a big trend, especially here in London, and I find boundaries are being pushed in inspiring ways. The chefs are playful and creative, and it’s been great working with them to design ceramic vessels for their new creations.
In the photo above, the top image is the dessert course at Alinea in Chicago, where sauces, crumble, and a frozen chocolate mousse (in liquid nitrogen) are artfully displayed directly onto the table. On the bottom left, is an edible balloon with which you can have a little helium fun, also at Alinea. On the right is The Fat Duck’s multi-sensory truffle toast course in the UK. I can only enjoy these with two of my senses for the moment, through the wonderful medium of YouTube. One day in person.
2. Tim Walker’s Photography
Tim Walker is a fashion photographer in London and obviously passionate about ideas and trying new things. He always pulls it off beautifully and elegantly without losing any of the fun.
3. Doug Foster’s Video Art
Just mesmerizing. Doug Foster does video installation in great spaces; it’s hypnotic and beautiful. Tokyo Night Drive (right) is a YouTube video that’s just as beautiful. I love the fact that I can enjoy these artworks on the computer at home as well.
4. Japanese country folk
I grew up in Japan and my mother still lives there, so I go back as much as possible. I’ve been accused of real nostalgia for Japan. Their crockery and packaging is so beautiful and inspiring, but it’s the traditional rituals of the countryside I grew up in that stays with me. I’m a cocktail sipping Londoner, but when I go back, I get to help harvest rice, pound it with large wooden mallets to make mochi, which are sticky rice cakes. I learned some cha-do (tea ceremony) rituals from my 100-year-old grandmother, who’s a tea sensei. I chat with Endo-san stringing up persimmons to dry, adamant that his fruits are fine even after the nuclear blasts. I am treated to some hearty food by his wife, who we all agree is the best cook around.
This is all in Fukushima prefecture. Obviously last year was terrible for them, but I’m inspired by their practical, level-headed hardiness. My mother writes a blog about life there since the disaster, which came about from friends and family forwarding emails about what was happening.
5. Kyudo: The Way of the Bow
After all this drinking, eating, seeing, and living, Kyudo is my effort at discipline and balance. It is very beautiful to watch, which is what attracted me. It’s such a different, Eastern way of learning. You learn absolutely by the book. There’s no room for your own interpretations or creativity (which can be refreshing). After eight years, I still don’t think I’ve scratched the surface, but it feels like it’s one of the very few things that have stayed constant, while other things in my life come and go.
The bow is beautiful. It’s made of bamboo and hardwood, and shaped in a really pleasing curve. The grip is one-third up to conform to the golden section. The design has hardly changed from the earliest days of its existence. The sound of the string is thought to ward off evil spirits. Just as musicians know the character of their instruments, my bow has its own character. We generally get on.