Maker Monday: An ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Yoshihiro Nishiyama

From working at a glass studio at an early age, Yoshihiro Nishiyama always knew he was meant to create art as his career. He has been able to master a handful of techniques including, Émile Gallé, Katabuki, and sandblasting. With these techniques, Yoshihiro is able to construct intricate pieces with roses, grapes, and extremely thin glass that “makes you feel like you are floating on the surface of a lake.” Introducing this week’s Maker Monday, Yoshihiro Nishiyama.

Featured here is one of Yoshihiro’s octagon glasses. These hand-blown glasses made up a whole tableware set joined by other artists mostly from Roman & Williams Guild.

Andrew Joseph: Describe your design style as if you were explaining it to someone who cannot see.
Yoshihiro Nishiyama: I touch and feel the material with my own hands and search for somethings within the action, which moves/speaks to me. From there, I create shapes that are as simple as possible.

Andrew: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Yoshihiro: Persistence. I can pursue tasks without giving up.

Andrew: What’s a guilty pleasure you have?
Yoshihiro: Watch YouTube even though there are pressing deadlines.

Andrew: What are three words to describe where you live?
Yoshihiro: Tradition. Nature. Countryside.

Andrew: What are your ideal weekend plans?
Yoshihiro: Go fishing and have drinks with the fish I caught myself.

Yoshihiro’s glasses completed this dining table set for a penthouse in Houston, TX designed by 212box.

Andrew: What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
Yoshihiro: Sensitive to cold.

Andrew: What’s something you always travel with?
Yoshihiro: Short novel. Aspirin.

Andrew: What was your first job?
Yoshihiro: A part-time job to move office printers.

Andrew: Are you a good cook? If so, what’s your specialty?
Yoshihiro: I’m not a good cook. I make dishes with lots of vegetables and fast to prepare.

Andrew: What are you most proud of?
Yoshihiro: Ability to work.

Andrew: What are three things you can’t live without?
Yoshihiro: This is a simple question, which was difficult to answer. I could think of a lot more than three. The first thing I thought of was work. There are rich moments within work and I feel connected with people and the world through it. I feel very lucky.

Pictured here is a custom table built by BDDW with Yoshihiro Nishiyama’s octagon glasses placed on top. This was part of a 212box project for a penthouse in Houston, TX.

Andrew: What’s one ingredient you put in everything?
Yoshihiro: “Men-tsuyu” (Broth for noodle). Soy sauce.

Andrew: What’s your biggest fear in life?
Yoshihiro: Being not able to work. Being not be able to blow glass (Serious). Caterpillar, centipede (not serious).

Andrew: Secret talent?
Yoshihiro: No one can probably imagine but I can make glass in Émile Gallé style. I worked at a glass studio from when I was 18 to 22-years-old, and made products like that. I can curve detailed decorations, like roses and grapes, using sandblast technique. Nobody knows that I can do that now.

Andrew: How would you define your work in three words?
Yoshihiro: Repeat. Discover. Adjust.

Andrew: If you had one more hour in the day what would you do with it?
Yoshihiro: I’d sleep.

Yoshihiro has mastered several techniques when it comes to hand-blown glass. One of them being, Katabuki, a technique that uses a mold into which glass is blown – allowing for extremely light and thin glasses to be made.

Andrew: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
Yoshihiro: The act of making utilitarian products rather than decorative objects. Meaning of the act, in which people make large numbers of the same products, seems to be diminishing. But I’m intrigued that we find something within the process of hand-making and create shapes based on the experience. I also believe that handworks carry some things (that manufacturers do not). Also, this work/industry suits me.

Andrew: Best advice you’d give your teenage self?
Yoshihiro: Things get more interesting in adulthood.

Andrew: What would you like to be remembered for?
Yoshihiro: A Japanese, who create products/works with blown-glass technique.

Photography by Roman and Williams Guild.

About The Maker | Heralded by lovers of ikebana and wabi-sabi, Yoshihiro Nishiyama creates handmade glassware hundreds of miles from Tokyo in the Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. Light dances through Yoshihiro Nishiyama’s perfectly imperfect glassworks. Deeply influenced by glassware from the Edo, Meiji and Taisho periods, Yoshihiro is a master of Katabuki, a technique that uses a mold into which glass is blown – allowing for extremely light and thin glasses with a characteristically expressive surface that “makes you feel like you are floating on the surface of a lake”. In the words of the artist, “Although glass is usually considered cold, in reality, it also has warmth and softness, which I try to express.”

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here

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