Akiko Hirai was born in Japan in March 1970 where she initially studied cognitive psychology and obtained her degree before coming to England. She then studied at The University of Westminster and subsequently Central St Martins, where she currently works as Head of Ceramics in Kensington and Chelsea College. Her studio also forms part of The Chocolate Factory N16 in Stoke Newington.
When making her ceramics Akiko Hirai draws upon traditional Japanese methods and allows the clay to direct how it wants to be fired. Her pieces are deeply textured and her forms are both simple and visually satisfying. She uses rough dark clay, creating a contrast between the crude underneath and the smooth calm of the glazed exterior.