The Swedish pottery brand Studio Oyama was founded in 2012 by Masayoshi Oya. The Gothenburg-based ceramic design studio focuses on functional and decorative ceramic wares landing in the compelling space between manufactured ceramics and artisan pottery. Originally from Tokyo in Japan, Oya moved to Sweden to study at Capellagården and later HDK (School of Design and Crafts). Oya’s work is shaped by his experiences with traditional arts and crafts from Japan paired with his Swedish arts education and experience.
Studio Oyama explians, “With an aesthetic rooted in both Japanese and Swedish culture and design traditions, Oya pairs simple shapes with playful and graphic glazing to create striking tableware and ceramic pieces.”
In the last decade, a trend has emerged where mainstream U.S. potters aim to partner with major brands for mass manufacturing and distribution of their designs. This is one solution to the problem of making a full-time living with handmade pottery in the 21st century but it comes with challenges – a partnership is hard to solidify, licensing fees are typically low, you lose some control of the finished product, and it is upsettingly hands-off.
Masayoshi Oya has found a perfect middle ground between a time-intensive hand-thrown pottery practice and the hands-off licensing partnerships. Oya distributes work under his design brand Studio Oyama which uses ceramic manufacturing processes while retaining the vitality of handmade wares through energized surface decoration.
Slipcasting has a way sucking the soul from functional pottery, but Oya’s surface decorating is filled with sensations of speed, impact, and humanness. His forms are minimal enough for the average consumer to feel comfortable, but they are not conventional. Mainstream tastes progress with baby steps and Studio Oyama has balanced the perfect amount of convention with intrigue. In particular, his newest three cup and saucer designs titled Svart Yuzu, Brun Farin, and Gråsten are effectively expanding the tastes of the mainstream dinnerware buyer while creating compelling products. This type of practice has Studio Oyama balancing in rare spaces, between designer and artist, creator and brand, maker and entrepreneur, and potter and painter. In this way, Studio Oyama’s Swedish pottery brand is similar to Nick Moen’s U.S. pottery brand The Bright Angle which you can read about in a previous article here.
Studio Oyama’s Swedish pottery made with a Japanese spirit draws inspiration for surfaces from nature. Oya explains the inspiration for his Gråsten series:
“Gråsten means grey rock in Swedish. Here in Sweden, huge rocks stand out everywhere and I was inspired to reproduce the layer of rocks with glaze. I tried to make them match a natural atmosphere like the forest or a hut in Sweden. The small plate can be used as a saucer or in completely different way, such as a jewelry or candle plate.”