Five minutes with Yuka O'Shannessy ...

Photography and words by Yasmine Ganley @anyonegirl
Styling by Darya Bing @daryabing

We have always taken cues from the design aesthetic and approaches of the Japanese culture — a practice that is minimal and intentional. Yuka O’Shannessy of craft & homeware store An Astute Assembly carries that wabi-sabi essence throughout everything she does. We visit the mother of two in her newly opened space on Ponsonby Road, and catch a glimpse into the way she delicately weaves her Japanese roots into her business and lifestyle.
 Larsen Dress

— What were the motivations for opening a physical space for AAA? And how have you found this experience? 
We carry many beautiful things that come from small production runs, the artisan’s consideration and dedication is stamped onto each product. They all embody great stories and philosophies behind each object that really need to be told and discussed in person. We run creative workshops that are relevant to our Japanese culture in some way, so to link up all of these things, we started thinking seriously about having our own space.
In recent years, we have also started to accumulate works from local artists. We get great pleasure from working so closely with the makers – there’s always wonderful inspiration and energy from them. Our aim is to install a roster of exhibitions in our space throughout the year to celebrate the artist’s work. We really want to encourage and support them to strive and lift their profile.

I didn’t have anything when I got here in my early 20s, I hardly spoke English, so I felt I lost my identity for a while. Having supportive and caring friends & family around me gave me my identity back and got me through those hard times. I’m very grateful for this, and the store is just my way of contributing some of my love and time in return. 
— Do you have any rituals in place to begin and finish your working day? 
One (or two) very strong coffees in the morning. We have an Italian coffee machine, La Pavoni, at home that makes damn good coffee. After sending the kids to school I go to Daily Daily for my next coffee where I get to read design magazines or socialise with the locals. Then when I get into store, I burn incense from Kyoto. It’s a quality of sandalwood that promotes a cleansing of the space and brings in good energy. To end my day, the ritual is to take the Noren down. It’s always nice to stay a while, too, and catch the stillness.  
 Porto Jacket and Penny Pant

— What silhouettes, fabrics and palette do you tend to gravitate towards in your personal wardrobe? 
I have my own silhouettes and rules that I like to follow. I love considering the balance between spaces: eg: between body and garment. I also like to combine a juxtaposition of elements, eg: thin and oversized, structured and draped, or bold and elegant. I like using natural fabrics, my favourite textile is probably a wool suiting, it holds the shape and structure well and is mostly wrinkle-free. It can feel very silky and breathable. I’ve started to wear more colour than in previous years too.
 Else Jacket and Niva Pant

— Does this translate into your home environment?
I love to include design components of both authentic and modern elements, that’s what I tend to adore. I can’t do it often, but it would be lovely to start a collection of art for my home.
— What is one item you are coveting at the moment?
Noguchi Isamu’s large and long lantern.

 Copenhagen Dress and Porto Jacket
— How do you and your two girls like to spend your days off together?
My girls are 10 & 12-years-old, which is such a lovely age. They have their own opinions and they like to share their stories with us. We do love pottering around the house together, but I tend to work if I stay home ( bad habit !) so to make our time a little special we go out to different parts of town and explore, either into nature or into the city — enjoying their company and making memories with them. If we stay home, we usually potter in the garden or cook nice meals together, following recipes (something that we can’t usually do in such a busy lifestyle) we also love having friends over for dinner partys. We are planning a family trip to Europe next year, which I’m really looking forward to.

Sabro Top and Skive Skirt / Porto Jacket and Penny Pant 

— Can you talk about any up coming events / exhibition you are hosting this year? 
Now that we have our own space, we can finally do what we’ve always been wanting to do… celebrate artists and their beautiful hand-crafted objects in person. In November, we have organised something extra special,"Japan Craft Now" a series of workshops hosted by a group of artisans from Japan. We look forward to working closely with these ambitious, dedicated artists.

 Annie Top and Vivi Skirt
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