A Japanese upbringing, a university degree in Living Space Design from Nihon University and four years as a cabinetmaker at Hinoki Kougei Ltd. – one does not immediately associate Akiko Kuwahata with a Nordic designer, but her role in the category is clear.
Apart from having been a visiting student at the School of Architecture in Aarhus, Denmark and worked at, among others, Hans Thyge & Co. (formerly RKDO) and Cecilie Manz, Akiko resides in Denmark, runs the design studio Akiko, with inspiration from old Japanese handicraft and with a Scandinavian formal idiom. And then she has a growing number of Danish exhibitions behind her. So although Akiko – as her name clearly reveals – is from Japan, her designs combine old Japanese handicraft with minimalist Scandinavian design. So it is not surprising that she prefers a natural material like wood, and explores its facets by working with it in her hands rather than using large machinery. The direct contact with the material is an approach to the design process that brings a smile to Akiko’s lips – an approach she feels sure she will go on preferring far into the future.