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The first time you meet artist Shino Takeda, you are struck by her energy and her laugh. It's one of those highly contagious laughs where you catch yourself smiling, too. Being around someone like Shino feels good for the soul; you start to see the way she sees, feel the way she feels, cook and taste the way she does.
The Japanese ceramicist has called Brooklyn home for more than a decade. She has an uncanny ability to capture the perfectly imperfect, well, perfectly. Her art is characterized by a harmonious mishmash of textures, colors, and lines. Her one-of-a-kind works all look so whimsical, but like with any skilled artisan, there's great technique and years of hard work at play. The full-time artist, whose wares can be found on her own site and featured in cool boutiques like Mociun, might have grown up in a food- and art-loving family, but she came to her current profession after years of side hustling. And she doesn't take a single thing for granted.
Read on for a chat with Shino. Find out why minimalism is not for her, and what she thinks are the best and most challenging parts of being an artist in New York.
HANA ASBRINK: Hi Shino, please tell us about yourself.
SHINO TAKEDA: I grew up in Fukuoka, Japan, and moved to Brooklyn in the 1990s. I guess my occupation is ceramicist, but I really don’t feel like I “work”... I do what I like to do, and I am lucky enough to make a living with it.
HA: How long have you lived in this apartment, and what do you like most about your Brooklyn home?
ST: This is my 11th year in my Bed-Stuy home. I love this apartment because I get so much natural light!
HA: Describe your decorating style. What are you influenced by?
ST: As for decorating, I would describe it as a “fill-up-your-space” style. (laughs) It's a mixture of vintage and handmade, with lots of plants. I don’t have many industrial things in my place. Everything has a history or story behind it.
HA: What's your organizing style? I'm curious to know your honest thoughts on Mari Kondo.
ST: I remember when all my friends were talking about danshari, the Japanese practice of removing both physical and emotional clutter from your life. Well, if you look at pictures of my place, you might think that I have too many things. But I don’t have anything I don’t love in my place... so her technique won’t work in my case. Personally, I am not a big fan of minimalism or a super organized style. If I go to a friend’s place and it is too clean and organized, I cannot relax because I feel like I have to be really careful not to make a mess.
HA: If your walls could talk, what would they say?
ST: "Go ahead and fill me up!" I have high ceilings, so there's a lot more blank space in the upper areas where I cannot reach to hang things.
HA: How often do you entertain?
ST: I entertain quite often. At least once a week, sometimes twice a week. Part of the reason is because I have many designer/photographer/musician friends who come to New York from overseas, so when they are here, I always have a house party.
HA:Do you have a signature dinner party dish?
ST: I love whole roasted fish! I use different kinds of herbs and liquor each time, but it is definitely my signature dish.
HA: What is your ultimate comfort food?
ST: Soba or udon. During the summer, I make cold versions with refreshing vegetables; in the winter, I prefer it a little simpler, always with an egg.
HA: What do you always keep in your fridge?
ST: New York Shuk harissa because it goes so well with fish, meat, and vegetables. I honestly think it is the best harissa out there, and I personally know that the founders put so much love into their products.
HA: What is your favorite kitchen utensil?
ST: For me, my saibashi, or cooking chopsticks (similar ones here) are key. I even bring them with me when I travel.
HA: What is your favorite way to relax after a long week at the studio?
ST: Take a bath and sink into my sofa afterward.
HA: What are the best and most challenging things about being an artist in New York City?
ST: The best thing is that I can get inspiration from so many different art forms—both old and new—and meet people from all over the world. This is something I couldn’t have done living in my parents' home back in Japan.
As for the most challenging, it is so expensive to live here. Renting a studio is like renting another apartment; I wish that the city had more regulations and incentives for artists' apartments and studios.
HA: What's on your playlist right now?
ST: Classic hip-hop.
HA: What are your favorite Food52 recipes?
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
What do you think of Shino's art- and plant-filled home?
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