Tell us a bit about yourself
Hi, my name is Yumi Ando and I have lived a happy life in Melbourne for about 8 years. My husband and I moved here from Canberra, where we resided for a couple of years, after we made a big relocation together from Tokyo over a decade ago. We came here to enjoy the freedom, space, natural beauty and adventure that Australia offers. Australia is a nice environment to discover and nurture creativity. I also travel back to Japan every now and then in search of new materials, ideas, and to re-connect with my cultural heritage which plays a big part in my aesthetic ideas.
I have always been very interested in design, particularly Interiors, Architecture, Fashion and Graphics. In Canberra I began experimenting with Ceramics and Pottery, and then in Melbourne I completed a Diploma in Interior Design & Decoration at RMIT 2008. This led to an opportunity in Interior Homewares Retail, where I enjoyed working on Graphic Design, Textile Design, Photography and Visual Merchandising. Last year I decided it was time for a change, and time for me spent more time doing what I really love, ceramics, and from this And O Design was born.
From day one, all of the And O Design products have been individually made in a small studio at our home (a peaceful old apartment), where I am constantly working on current products, new designs, and refining future ideas.
Can you explain your craft/art and the material you like to use? A vast majority of the And O Design products are created from Porcelain, although I sometimes use earthenware or Raku clays depending on the texture and colours that I want to achieve. My range of finishing includes locally and Japan sourced glazes, pencils, scribblers, slips and other techniques. At the moment I am working on some new ideas involving slip casting, etching, and the application of digital graphics onto clay.
Where do you get your inspiration and what is your creative process? When relaxing I like to sketch and play with new product ideas, expanding on simple organic, architectural or industrial forms on paper. Some of these are then illustrated in CAD before a handmade template is created, whereas others go straight into a prototype phase where I experiment with different fun ways of applying glaze, carving and finishing the piece. After a first experimental batch is kiln fired, adjustments are made before heading full steam into short run production. Because each piece is individually formed by hand, each one is unique, and the randomness of firing also adds an interesting variety to the colors and finishes on each batch. From then on it is a balancing act of working on new ideas, and keeping up with demand with current designs.
My inspiration comes from a wide range of visual media, found objects and iconic symbols. Some of these include environmental objects such as pebbles, clouds and plants, through to minimal geometric shapes, architectural structures and industrial items like cogs, keys, signage etc. I really love collecting small things in the world which are beautiful in their own right. Objects as simple as shells, raw gemstones and seed pods, as well as constructed things like brass stencils, dice, jewellery and textiles.
How long have you been creating and how did you get into craft/art? From a young age I used creativity to amuse myself, collecting things and creating toys from found objects. I always loved painting and sketching, and then moved into 35mm photography to capture the beauty of places like Japan, South East Asia and the United Kingdom whilst travelling. The work of other designers in the fashion and interior industries often attracted my attention, and led to my interest in working in the Interior Design industry in the future. It was only a few years ago that I began to seriously consider working independently and focus on being a producer of jewellery and interior accessories. From there it was a natural progression to fall in love with ceramics because of its hands-on nature, flexibility, and great satisfaction when holding completed work in your hand.
How did you come up with your business name? Ando is my surname, so it just kind of happened that way. I also really love typography in design, so chose a monogram incorporating my initials into a Japanese style crest.
What resources 'have or do you' use to help your creative pursuits (i.e. groups, classes, shops, websites etc)?
I use Northcote Pottery in Brunswick East to purchase supplies and use their firing service. They also run short courses and one day workshops which I participate in.
What's your best advice for someone starting up?
My business is only close to a year old, so I'm not sure if I am really qualified to give good advice yet. I think however that having a really strong passion and commitment to making a creative idea work, is paramount. Enjoying what you do is probably the key to it all, because it will show in the love with goes into making each piece.
Do you have any advertising/promotion tips for sellers to be successful?
There is no substitute for good old fashioned leg work, approaching interesting local shops, investigating markets, and making contact with as many potential customers and supporters as possible. Madeit has also been very good, as quite a few shop owners seem to enjoy fossicking around for new and interesting products.
Can you share any lessons that you have learned the hard way? So far the whole experience has only been positive! One lesson for people planning to sell their items at markets would be to research the popularity and demographic first. Like anything, it is always a risk, but it seems choosing the right locations to present your work can make a really vast difference in terms of finding new friendly customers.
What do you like to do besides creating? When not working (which is most of the time), I have a deep passion for music, film, reading, antiques, and collecting interesting objects.
What is your favourite music, television show, film, book, website? Books: I always love Haruki Murakami books which remind me of my time in Tokyo.
Music: I love folk music by M. Ward and Sean Hayes. Niki King's beautiful jazz voice.
What would be your perfect day?
A really nice day would have to start with a tasty breakfast! Perhaps followed by a trip out on a warm sunny day, seeing some native animals and exploring… maybe finding something interesting to take home. This would hopefully result in some good new creative ideas, best sketched on the balcony with a good coffee in hand. Then time to build a few prototypes, which, being a perfect day, would magically turn out completely as expected! Then time to cuddle the imaginary pet bunny on the couch.
Who is one of your favourite madeit seller, explain why in less than 10 words? GayeAbandon - Very creative and unique products using recycled material.