Ceramic artist Kei Kawachi sees pottery as more than just a piece of clay. Pulled from the ground, shaped, fired and glazed, we end up using clay in our daily lives. We eat from ceramic dishes. We use vases to display flowers from the garden. To Kawachi, it’s these simple connection points to nature that fascinate him and his aim as a potter is to act as a mediator with every ceramic piece he makes.
“When I make earthenware, I always seek the balance point where the wildness and the utility of tools are melting into each other harmoniously.” — Kei Kawachi
When he was growing up in the Tokai region of Japan, Kei Kawachi dreamt of being a painter. Art college was tough, and for a short while he decided to pursue the more traditionally stable route of economics and computing.
However, it wasn’t long before the art world beckoned him back. “I wanted to make analog things with my own hands,” explains Kawachi. On choosing ceramics he says “I thought that it is easier for vessels to deliver my work in people’s lives than paintings. That is why I quit an IT-related company and entered a pottery school in Seto City, a pottery town.”
What happened next?
“After graduating from the school of pottery, I worked at a pottery factory and made my own work. I got my own kiln and workshop and I became independent. Now I make dishes with pottery. I have them in galleries, hold solo exhibitions, or sell my work online. In the future I would like to make more artistic objects.”
Soft natural colors are created using ash glazes created from Japanese cypress and white oak. Kawachi likes to create understated pottery to enhance the look of the food served on it.
How do you describe your work?
Kawachi: Since I make dishes mainly, I am aiming for an item that looks beautiful with cooking. I am trying to express functional beauty, with ease of use. I also want to express harmony between nature and people.
“I also want to express harmony between nature and people.” — Kei Kawachi
The colors used by Kawachi relate closely to those found in nature. A crackle effect on a plate reminds one of the veins on a leaf, rich blue bowls seem like a view into a bottomless pool of water.
Do you use your own pottery at home?
I always use my own pottery at home.
What is your aesthetic for home decor?
Warmth. With old antiques and hand-made wood interiors.
How you like to decorate your home.
My house is an old wooden house. I decorate with old antique furniture and wooden things that fit the house, using objects close to nature.
Since the old interiors fit well with the handmade items, I like to use furniture that I made, or repaired by myself. So I have a lot of affection for my home.
Do you have a favorite selection of work that you have created?
I have a blue mug that is my favorite work.
*Some answers have been edited for grammar and clarity.
With colors that call your mind to nature, it’s clear that Kei Kawachi has done his job as an intermediary bringing humans to notice the simple things in life. Take a moment to relish the bean that’s journeyed from the coffee plant to be a fine cup of joe presented in a beautiful piece of art; it’s worth taking the time to pause and reflect on these ceramic creations.
If you’re interested in seeing more ceramic work by other artists featured on NONAGON.style, enjoy this Plate Recorder project by Liat Segal and Roy Maayan.