Asuka Mew & Anna Miller-Yeaman both studied art at VCA from 2008 – Asuka in painting, and Anna in sculpture. ‘We met in the workshop, and started helping each other out with our respective projects – we became good friends and have been together for six years’ says Anna. Over the past few years the pair have each undertaken varied creative jobs, acquiring various new skills between them, whilst continuing their own art practices. Asuka has worked in heritage building restoration, picture framing and is currently a furniture maker part-time at Pierre & Charlotte, whilst Anna has worked as a picture framer, in the design industry and exhibits her installation practice at ARI in Melbourne.
Wingnut & Co. came about after Asuka took a ceramics course at Carlton Arts Centre. After that he says pretty much all his spare time was spent on the potter’s wheel! ‘We borrowed a wheel from a friend, and started a makeshift workspace in our backyard shed in Northcote’ says Anna. In 2013, the pair established Wingnut & Co. in that tiny shed, which Anna says was ‘always a swamp-like mix of wood chips and wet clay!’
Many of Asuka and Anna’s beautiful, functional designs are influenced by Japanese tableware – ricebowls, tea cups, beer cups etc. Asuka was raised in Northern Kyushu in Japan, and his parents live in Fukuoka, so the pair visit Japan frequently. When they do, they spend always spent time visiting and revisiting old pottery towns across Japan, and last year Asuka also had the opportunity to learn from a master potter in Itoshima.
What makes Wingnut & Co. distinctive is that much of the range incorporates a ceramic vessel with a hand turned timber lid. Once the ceramic vessels are fired, their openings are precisely measured so that an individual timber lid can be turned for each one. These timber components are created from off-cuts from Asuka’s day job at Pierre & Charlotte. ‘We really love combining ceramic and timber in our designs and are always trying (and often failing) to find new ways for them to work together’ says Anna. The pair are also currently trialling other beautiful materials, like brass, in combination with ceramic and timber elements.
Wingnut & Co. products can be found at stockists across Melbourne including Mr Kitly, Shop Kinobi, Minami Store, Third Drawer Down and more listed on their website. Asuka and Anna are also looking forward to launching their very own little shop space at the front of their North Melbourne studio later this month, accompanied by an online shop too – keep your eyes on their instgram for updates!