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Ayako Aratani

born in Chiba, Japan

Lives and works in Detroit, USA




My work embraces organic irregularities that are found in handmade beauty and warmth. Focusing on brass brazing and upholstery sewing, I explore design possibilities to push the boundaries of what furniture can be.

Being from Japan, I have a deep appreciation for the natural world and the importance of balance, harmony, and imperfection. Living and working in Detroit has also been a major influence on my work, exposing me to a diverse range of perspectives and ideas, while also nurturing my knowledge and curiosity about materials and fabrication processes. 

I believe that functional objects don’t only serve a purpose but also evoke metaphor and storytelling. I aim to create pieces bringing a sense of art into everyday life.


Ayako Aratani is a furniture designer and sculptor based in Detroit. Born and raised in Japan. She studied product and furniture design at Chiba University before pursuing a master's degree in 3-Dimensional Design at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Following her graduation in 2016, she established her studio practice in Pontiac, MI.


Ayako's expertise and contributions to the field of design have been widely recognized, and she has received numerous awards, including the iF Design Award, UNESCO Design City World Wide Things Collection, MUJI International Design Award Bronze prize, Good Design Award, and Saku City Chair Design Competition Gold prize. Her work has been featured in many prominent exhibitions, including a solo show as part of the Aratani Fay duo at Salon Gallery, the group exhibition Never Normal at Wasserman Project Gallery, and selected group exhibitions at Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, as well as the ICFF+WantedDesignManhattan, Architectural Design Digest Show in NYC, Salone Satellite in Milan, Collective Design in NYC, and the Interior Design Show in Toronto.

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Cranbrook Academy of Art  Bloomfield Hills, MI USA

Master of Fine Arts in 3D Design


Chiba University  Chiba, Japan

Bachelor of Engineering in Product Design


Duo Exhibition

2019  Lawless - Aratani Fay at Salon Gallery, Boston, MA

Group Exhibition

2023  Stop Making Sence Plus One at  Janice Charach Gallery, West Bloomfield, USA

2022  Stop Making Sence at College for Creative Studies, Detroit, USA

2021  Cranbrook Chair Show at Studio Jack Craig, Detroit, USA

2020  Never Normal at Wasserman Project Gallery, Detroit, USA

2019  Edge Walkers at Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art, Harrisonburg, USA

2018  The Blue Room at The Fisher Mansion, Detroit, USA

2013  Journey Exhibition at The Ritz Carlton Hotel, Tokyo, Japan

2011  Lonmiladonno at HAC Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

2010  Interior Lifestyle at Seibu Mall, Tokyo, Japan

2009  Zero Exhibition at Ark Hills, Tokyo, Japan

2006  Tokyo Designers Week at Jingu Gaien, Tokyo, Japan

Award Exhibition

2019  UNESCO WWTC in Graz, Austria

2014  Library Chair Award at Saku city library, Nagano, Japan

2014  Good Design Award ar Tokyo Midtown, Tokyo, Japan

2014  MUJI Award in Japan, Canada, Taiwan, China

2013  Good Design Award at Tokyo Big Sight, Tokyo, Japan

2012  Kids Design Award in Kobe, Fukui, Japan

2010  Good Design Award at Tokyo Big Sight, Tokyo, Japan


2023  ICFF+WantedDesign Manhattan, Javits Convention Center, NYC USA

2018  ADD Show at Piers 92 & 94, NYC USA

2017  Studio North Interior Design Show at MTTC, Toronto, Canada

2017  Salone Satellite at Salone del Mobile, Milan, Italy

2017  American Design Club at ICFF, NYC USA

2016  After Dark at Detroit Design Festival Eastern Market Detroit, MI USA

2016  Collective Design at Skylight Clarkson Square, NYC USA

2014  IFFT at Tokyo Big Sight, Tokyo, Japan

2013  IFFT at Tokyo Big Sight, Tokyo, Japan


2019  UNESCO Design City World Wide Things Collection for Click-Clock

2017  Designlines Magazine 1 of 100 Editor's Choice for Click-Clock

2015  IF Design Award for L- table by Okamura

2014  Good Design Award for L- table by Okamura

2014  MUJI International Design Competition Bronze for O-Sketch

2014  Saku City Design Award Gold for Library Chair

2014  Good Design Award for Ruschello by Okamura

2013  Good Design Award for Omnes by Okamura

2012  Kids Design Award for Stella by Okamura

2009  Good Design Award for Scholar Light Desk by Okamura

2009  Eco-friendly Design Award for Scholar Light Desk by Okamura

2005  Iwaizumi Natural Wood Design Award for Kizuna bench


2015  Florence M. Burt Scholarship

2015  Union Foundation For Ergo-design Culture

2015  Nomura Foundation


Sep 2021 - present

College for Creative Studies  Detroit, MI USA

Adjunct Professor

Feb 2020

Laurence Technology University  Southfield, MI USA

Guest Instructor


Feb 2019 - Apr 2020

College for Creative Studies  Detroit, MI USA

Guest Critic

May 2016

Wayne State University  Detroit, MI USA

Guest Critic

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