Design Story: Until I Can Have A Real Koi Pond…

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When I was a little girl growing up in St. Louis, there was a particular Japanese restaurant that my family frequented, mainly for the entertaining hibachi grill chefs and the family-fun atmosphere. But I often requested going there for another reason too- its koi fish pond. My first time seeing it was a revelatory moment. It hadn’t occurred to me until then that aspects of nature could be recreated for indoor spaces. People are so imaginative!

This koi pond lay at the entrance of the restaurant so that even if there was a wait to be seated, ambience based distraction was immediately present. Or at least, the distraction worked for kids and really, which parents wouldn’t appreciate that?

Encircled by bamboo with a mini waterfall pouring into it that created a serenely calming sound, I was always in awe. To top that off, the koi were about half the size of one of my arms at the time and I, being the animal lover deprived of any pets, saw this little habitat as a pond full of just that- pets. Clearly, my dream of someday having a koi pond in my home started here.


Cut to now, where almost half of the orders coming into my shop are custom requests. One of the things I love about creating custom orders is that I usually get to hear the background stories for them. These stories, even if brief and vague, give me a sense of human interaction- which is nice considering I often end up spending most of my days working alone.

Recently, I received a request to customize my koi and water lily wine glass set to better mimic the koi fish actually present in a customer’s parents’ home. YES- was obviously my answer. Ultimately, she decided upon 8 stemless wine glasses: 4 with water lilies and 4 with koi fish. She sent over a photo of the fish which made me a bit nervous, if I’m being honest.

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Each of the koi were differently colored and if we’re thinking in terms of color palettes, their colors didn’t really “go” together without other elements tying them in. Of course, I can imagine them being stunning in a pond with other bits of nature incorporated- I just had to find my own way of achieving that. It was an exciting  little challenge. I decided that the water lilies should all be white and each of the fish should consist of a little bit of white as well. Since lately I’ve become fond of adding simple motifs or patterns within my mosaic painted tiles, I decided to use this technique with the fish too, with the color beige in hopes to keep the aesthetic chic.

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I’m really happy with how these turned out! The colors of the fish alone are very bold so  I think incorporating the white, beige, and earthy green for the lily pads worked in giving the set a clean and sophisticated look overall.

I can just picture these on a beautiful dinner table right now with candles, real white floral centerpieces and a happy group of people enjoying a meal and some good Chardonnays together.


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