Akiko Hirai produces both practical and decorative ceramic ware. Her Japanese cultural background and aesthetics strongly influence her ceramic work while her pieces are also perfectly rooted in contemporary designs.
Her work is held in private collections, and displayed in museums worldwide including the V&A (U.K.), The Fitzwillam Museum, National Museum of Ireland and the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY.
Using various building techniques, including throwing, coiling, and casting, Akiko applies several layers of slips and glazes to create the complex texture and tones for each ceramic surface. Often fired using the reduction atmosphere in her gas kiln, rather than using coloured oxides to decorate her work, metal and mineral rich clays are used, alongside marginal metal and mineral content of other raw materials, to create colours that occur from the chemical reaction during her firing process. A process she compares to the ageing process of many materials over a long period of time.
Initially trained privately at the studio of UK potter Chris Bramble in 1999, Akiko then studied for a degree in Ceramic Design at Central St Martins, graduating in 2003. After her graduation she established herself as an independent potter at her studio in London and has been creating her work there since. Teaching ceramics at Kensington and Chelsea college between 2005 and 2015, before leaving to devote her time to her own practice, Akiko had risen to become head of the ceramics department.