The name Aya Nihei has been making its way more and more into our features ever since this talented writer started contributing for us. We’ve briefly mentioned her in our past Journal entries but since we’ve begun to carry her ‘Best of Brooklyn’ series, we wanted to do a proper introduction to showcase the face behind these guidebooks and also the face behind a lot of the work that goes on behind Nalata Nalata.
Aya is originally from Japan but currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Miwa, and their cat, Michiko. We’ve gotten to know her through the development of a series of random encounters, and now find ourselves in a relationship forged upon a mutual love of handicrafts. It’s not often we find someone who is more obsessed with collecting handmade objects as us. One look at Aya’s home serves as a sign that they exist!
Aya has all kinds of items made by artisans that we know and love like Tajika scissors, wood bowls by Ryuji Mitani (who we’ll be having an exhibiton with in October) and artwork by Keiko Yuasa (a painter based in Nagoya who is the wife of Tatsuya Yuasu, the graphic designer behind ‘Best of Brooklyn’).
In addition to having a wonderful eye for these pieces, Aya also has great stories to accompany them. Sitting on her windowsill is a white ceramic house that stands out amongst her collection. I wasn’t surprised when she said it is her favourite. She tells us that the “White House”, capitalized as if it has a personality, is made by Japanese potter Jissei Omine (大嶺實清) from Okinawa. It has special meaning because her and her husband bought it during a studio visit with the potter instead of buying an actual house somewhere in Japan. She explains, “That’s our house that we can live in mentally, not physically, and bring everywhere.”
Another meaningful collection of Aya’s is her series of number “5” objects. She says that the Ni in her last name, Nihei, means 2. The Mi in her husband’s last name, Miwa, means 3. When they got married, it symbolized 2+3, which equals 5, so they married on May 5th and had their wedding ceremony on October 5th. Since then, they’ve been collecting “5” things, their lucky number, like the Mitsuhiro Konishi Number 5 Spoon!
We are so grateful for the friendship we’ve gained with Aya and can’t wait to have her all over our site in due time as we prepare for an exciting new series with her! Keep up to date with all of her latest projects like new books and cat articles on her site here.