Rei Minagawa


The quirky works of Un Studio can be seen at our Art Pop-Up, which is currently running til 2nd January next year. Our favourites include a series of ceramic Nike Dunks and a statue of Ultraman in an all-too-familiar zen pose. Rei is the artist behind these and she shares with us the little triumphs on her creative journey as well as the challenges that come with running your own independent practice. photo-of-rei-by-sojao.jpg

“I'd like to think I am a full-time potter and a part-time digital art director. You can usually find me in my studio I co-founded with my partner who is a furniture maker. We started Un Studio right after the circuit breaker, because everyone was working from home so much that we had to rent a working space to avoid noise complaints!”


“I picked up pottery quite intentionally. Working largely online, I decided I wanted to do something physical with my hands for a change, to bring some warmth back into the cold, digital world I spent much of my time in.”


“I googled for a pottery supply shop, found one near my home and picked out whatever I liked. I brought everything home and found solace in Youtube videos and my new-found hobby. I only focused on hand-building at first - a method where we use a manual wheel and/or other tools aside from the electric wheel.”

“Eventually I started adding new equipment to my collection and decided that this was it - when I'm 40 I want to wake up knowing I'll still be able to go to my studio and work on clay with my hands.”


“Running your own business is not easy and it really consumes you. Something I make a conscious effort to do is having dinner with my mom at least once a week, even when we live together.” 

“My mom is also my role model and just spending time with her makes me feel assured, and gives me a boost to work harder for my business and my family.”


“Because we're only human, it’s natural that we have moments when we feel burnt out. During such periods, I usually just decide right from the moment I wake up if the day is going to be productive. And if not, I'll spend the day watching Chinese or Japanese variety shows or irresponsibly spend money on food that I can never finish, as fuel for myself to do better the next day.”

“I also like to throw blindly on the wheel because just having clay moving between my fingers makes me feel some type of way.”


“I'm really not a morning person. I usually get up right before noon because we like working in the studio until 1 or 2am in the morning. But I do start my day walking my dog Miso and spending some time with her before it's hustle time.”

Rei’s sofa is dressed in our Cable Knit Throw in Stone and Checkered Rib Cushion Covers in Ruby and Stone.

“I love our sofa in the studio. Mainly because we like taking naps especially when it's hot out, and afternoon naps to me are the epitome of happiness and a relaxed life. Working a 9 to 5 desk job can’t give you that.”

“Also the view of my wheels from the sofa at around 3pm is divine. The light shines on the metal wheel heads and bounces back onto various parts of the studio and you think to yourself: “Is it really okay that I get to enjoy being here this much?” ”


“My favourite object in the studio is also ironically my least favourite object - my first kiln. It's small so it doesn't fit a lot, it cannot seem to reach my desired temperatures, and it creates a whole lot of smoke and mess after each firing.”


“But it was my first and I feel that purchasing this kiln solidified my path and the direction I wanted to head in my craft journey. It was the first big purchase that lasted my first year and a half as a full-time potter and the first year of Un Studio.”


“I get inspired by things I’ve seen and loved during my childhood. Things like wares that were used at a ryokan we visited when I was little or things my mom introduces to me from my culture that I shamefully know very little about but have since been trying to understand.”


“My creative process is all over the place most of the time. I usually decide on what I feel like making and get straight to the wheel to try and create something out of the image I have in my head. Most of the time it doesn't work because I feel like my hands are not at the level of skill my mind thinks they are. I've recently started sketching out my designs and it's been working well! Not the drawing because I can't draw for nuts, but the end product.”


“I've never stopped myself from trying to make something even if I knew it'd be a long shot.” 

“I think many people feel disappointed when they try something out and it doesn’t come out the way they intended. But as makers, we must try other ways to go about it. Alternatively, a project can be shelved for years, until you‘ve nurtured enough skill to match the outcome you have in your head. A good friend once told me that she is a ‘forever student’ and I wish to be the same.”


“My advice to others wanting to explore their creatives sides is to think less and do more. No one will ever be ready or 'have time' to start on their new hobbies or outlets so it's either do it now or do it never.”

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