Kira Ni, owner of Kira Ni Ceramics, began practicing pottery in January 2014. Just one year later she had founded her ceramics shop – a world away from her degree in management and the office jobs she had worked in for years. Ni escaped her corporate roots and sought out a basic understanding in ceramics. Four years down the line, she's crafted a distinctly individual style of ceramic objects that sell in a selection of chic retailers throughout the world.
"I did a few workshops and courses in London, to learn the basics of ceramics – nothing too deep, just enough to understand how everything works. Pottery is great in the sense that you will never be able to grasp everything about it, and that is amazing". Ni's beginnings may have been unassumingly small-scale, but she has steadily built a collection of ceramic series that visually contradict them. In 2016, she was included in Thames & Hudson's Clay – a survey book written by Australia based author, curator, lifestyle writer and speaker Amber Creswell Bell about over fifty contemporary ceramicists from around the world. Quite an accolade for a relative newbie potter.
Ni names Danish ceramicist Gertrud Vasegaard and American potter Edith Heath as some of her initial influencers, but as her practice grew so did her spiritual mentors. Increasingly, her inspiration now comes from contemporary Scandinavian interior design and Scandinavian log houses. Structure and simplicity are Ni's greatest teachers.
Ni's products are unified by simplicity in form and tonal quality, but in recent collections she has included spikes and jagged projections. Describing her design process, she explains how a slight change in her process allowed her to achieve this pared-back, porcelain punk aesthetic.
"From the beginning, I'd been working with stoneware clay – I like it, it’s very forgiving and it ‘talks’ to you. But last year I had an idea. I wanted to add colour to my pieces within the clay itself, not as a glaze. Unfortunately all the tests I carried out just weren't good enough – they didn't give me the colour or end result I was looking for. So I decided to change the material and start working with porcelain. It changed everything".
The switch to porcelain informed a reinvigorated vision for the current Kira Ni collection, with Ni's objects taking on wholly new texture, colour range, and form. Enter the spikes. "Spikes are fun. The spikes I create are not an aggressive type, more like a curious one – they're things that you would want to hold and have a reaction to".
Having escaped her corporate roots, Ni shows no sign of slowing down on the pottering front. Her immediate plans are to carry on making beautiful porcelain homeware goods, if nothing else, as a remedy for the fast-paced world she believes good design has the power to make more enjoyable.
"In a world where we need to change our phones every few years due to the fact they're not built to last, having a beautiful hand-made vase that will last for generations makes it more of a treasure. Hand-crafted objects are becoming more popular – I myself like to use hand-made objects on a daily basis because they offer a completely different experience. A soap that was made by a maker in Belgium, a candle that was created by a person in the UK, there is something to this whole craft experience that makes our homes cosier".