There’s something humbling about being welcomed into a creative workplace. Filled with materials and pieces in progress, workshops and studios are by nature messy and there’s rarely any point in tidying up for a visitor, so when I’m in the position of being said visitor, I feel privileged to be able to see the real work, ideas and life behind the scenes.
I found the prospect of this particularly thrilling when I was invited to interview artisans in Oita, a prefecture on Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island, located in the south-west of the country. With the help of a local expert, I put together an itinerary that would take me to see a host of local makers — some well known and others I’d scouted out myself.
When, like me, you’re a part-time potter and have observed the production of another ceramic artist’s work halfway around the world via the powers of Instagram, entering that person’s studio and having them generously share their methodology with you induces something akin to a fan-girl moment. Visiting Hiroyuki Usami of Usukiyaki was a highlight among the many highlights of my trip that saw me introduced to ancient methods of textile printing, the skills required to split bamboo, and a young couple who have taken a leap of faith and opened a backpacker hostel in an old samurai town.
The artists and craftspeople whose work we’ve shared in this issue’s Design Destination feature were chosen because their approach resonates with homestyle’s values; each has made a career for themselves that champions an entrepreneurial spirit and centres on sustainable practices. Pick up a copy of the issue to meet them yourself.
Alice Lines, editor