FK talks to Yumi Ando from Melbourne based ceramic label, And O design.
Can you describe your work to our readers.
Small, detailed, iconic, and at times a little cheeky… My porcelain jewellery is often strongly inspired by natural forms like plants, small animals, birds and marine life. Other times I like to work from a different angle, based on my interest in human constructs like architecture, industrial machinery parts or geometry. It’s a gentle balance that I try to constantly navigate around, carefully building each piece, and then hand applying glazes and decorating. My Japanese background also often shows through in the finished products, which are detailed and finished finely and individually.
Most of our ceramic jewellery comes to life as small illustrations, sketched during rare moments of relaxation or time out of the studio, or whenever inspiration hits. Often they are then carefully drawn using CAD to create unique templates, leaving them with a simple yet strong industrial flavour. I also enjoy prototyping and experimenting with new designs, and am always working at introducing new colors, glazes and techniques.
Aside from jewellery I also make small batches of hand sculpted ceramic dishes, tiny air plant hangers and decorative objects. It’s wonderful to be able to introduce so many new designs to Brisbane for the first time!
What is your background and how did you get started?
18 months ago I decided it was time for a change, and moved from working in Retail to rediscovering my passion for ceramics. I desperately wanted to challenge myself and find a way to produce cheerful designs which people would appreciate and fall in love with. It has been truly fantastic journey up to this point, making friends, seeing the smiles on peoples faces, and discovering that an independent home producer can craft and define something new and inspiring to bring the world. and O Design is still only a young business, but the support we have found in Australia, Japan and the UK gave me strength to move forward and always enjoy the process.
My background is quite diverse, and I have been lucky to have done a Business Degree in Tokyo, before later moving to Australia and learning the basics of hand-building in Canberra and then completing a Diploma in Interior Design at RMIT. Interior design is one of my other passions, and leads to a lot of my products being designed to accentuate or add detail to interior spaces, or peoples personal space in the form of jewellery.
Tell us about your fascination with jewellery and about the materials you use.
There is something magical about producing small items, and watching how they can transform the world around then by adding new personality, texture and dimension. For this reason I have always collected and paid attention to small things, pebbles, shells, gemstones, twigs, marbles, stamps… Everywhere I go I am always on the lookout from some new marvel to reveal itself and lead to a new idea for and O Design.
Everything we make is shaped, glazed and decorated by hand, usually in stoneware (porcelain) or sometimes earthernware or raku clay. The bare forms are fired and then glazed with brushing techniques before a final firing.
What do you find most rewarding working on your own label?
Above all, the sense of satisfaction as people smile seeing your work for the first time. It is lovely to be able to make people happy, and let them take that joy home with them. Working as an independent in a home studio can make life very busy at times, and there are always a lot of things demanding attention. It is all part of the challenge, and also the reward.
What inspires your work?
Ideas can drop by and say hello at any time! Sometimes it is the discovery of a simple tiny found object, sometimes it is a concept that has been floating around in my mind for a while which ends up being sketched, and sometimes when attempting to relax, something in the world will grab my attention. It could be a street sign, an animal scurrying around, part of a building, a vintage watch or piece of furniture…. anything is possible. I have great respect for designers like Tse Tse and …. who have a special place in my home.
What future aspirations do you have for your label and what can we expect to discover at the upcoming Finders Keepers Brisbane Markets?
I would love to see and O Design continue to grow, and develop more techniques and successful products as time goes on. In particular I am interested in creating a range of highly ornate and complex three dimensional pieces next year. I feel really excited and honoured to be a part of the Brisbane Markets this year, and really can’t wait to see what the other artists are making! Meeting new people and presenting our pieces for the first time in a new city is going to be a fantastic experience. I also look forward to exploring Brisbane and its surroundings, as this is a rare opportunity for me to leave the studio and get some sunshine.