Designer of the Day: Michiko Sakano – SURFACE

Source Credit:  Content and images from Surface Magazine by .  Read the original article - https://www.surfacemag.com/articles/michiko-sakano-designer-day/

Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.

Age: 53

Occupation: Artist and glassmaker.

Instagram: @michikosakanostudio

Hometown: Kanazawa, Japan.

Studio location: Brooklyn.

Describe what you make: I create environments with objects, sculptures, and utilitarian pieces exploring color and texture by using glass as the main material. I’m particularly interested in juxtapositions—thick and thin, voluptuous volumes and small tiny openings—objects that share tension and create contradiction in the same space. 

The most important thing you’ve designed to date: My career has had several pivotal moments, one of which was in 2019, when I had the opportunity to create centerpieces for the annual gala at UrbanGlass, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit glass center. This experience reignited my passion for creating my own art and designs and reinforced my commitment to developing a deeper connection with my aesthetic sensibilities.

Describe the problem your work solves: In the realm of glasswork and fabrication, we often get caught up in the technical nuances that come with the craft. I’ve been looking for ways to free my work from these constraints and lean into working with the material as an art form. Droplets, my latest body of work, serves as both a response to and a rebellion against the technical challenges. It’s not just about aesthetic—every piece embodies spontaneous joy, humor, and a liberating sense of creative freedom that arises from navigating the idea and practice of making with glass. Droplets aren’t just a collection; they represent a commitment to embracing the unplanned, finding delight in the process, and letting the creativity flow.  

Describe the project you are working on now: At present, I’m immersed in three unique creative projects, reflecting my usual approach of concurrently exploring various ideas. For example, I am teaching myself to make molds out of real rocks that I collect and cast them in an array of colors to play with the idea of juxtaposition.

I’m also devising concepts for lights and illuminations. As a glass fabricator, I have worked on many lighting projects and I am inspired by the effects of illumination and their impact on the mind and emotional state. 

Lastly, I’m creating large-scale, color-stacked sculptures, kind of creative exercises and assignments I give myself. I start with a small, simple form—like a bracelet—and work on scaling it up, making it become a different object altogether. I’m finding immense joy in realizing my visions and fully embracing the liberty that comes with artistic expression.

A new or forthcoming project we should know about: My first solo exhibition opened yesterday at Heller Gallery. I’m very honored and grateful to have this opportunity. It will introduce Droplets, my new lighting collection. Each of the 13 pieces in the exhibition is equipped with an LED light and a single cord, featuring the most basic forms that result from the encounter between a gather of molten glass and the force of human breath: a bubble, which subject to gravity transforms into a drop. The pieces have soft shapes and warm colors, and they change from object to light source when lit. 

What you absolutely must have in your studio: Three essential parts of my studio are a concrete floor, a good heater, and hot water. We use water for the finishing process. As for the non-essential, I listen to podcasts while I’m working on polishing glass. It helps me to really focus on detailed and delicate works. My regular podcasts are This American Life, This is Love, The Criminal, Ear Hustle, and Heavyweight—and I’m always asking friends for new ones! 

What you do when you’re not working: Most often, more glassblowing! I find immense joy in this art and when I’m not working on projects, I will go make cups and bowls. To me, glass is the most attractive and mysterious material, and I can’t stay away for long.  Beyond the studio, I love making dumplings—perhaps because the process parallels the intricacies of my studio work. Seeing art with my partner, Jan, and going on long runs.  

Sources of creative envy: Agnes Martin and James Turrell.

The distraction you want to eliminate: Social media, like many. YouTube.

Concrete or marble? Concrete.

High-rise or townhouse? Townhouse.

Remember or forget? Remember.

Aliens or ghosts? Ghosts.

Dark or light? Light.

Source Credit:  Content and images from Surface Magazine by .  Read the original article - https://www.surfacemag.com/articles/michiko-sakano-designer-day/