Setsuko Nagasawa was born in Kyoto. Following her studies of the arts in Japan, the United States and Switzerland, she opened her first studio in 1967 in Kyoto, and participated in her first major exhibition in 1977 in Geneva.
Nagasawa chooses to "present the space with objects that act above all as fields of tension" (Nagasawa). Her pieces have abandoned utilitarian references in favour of a sculptural quality. She has regularly exhibited her work throughout Europe, Japan and the United States since the 1960's, and has taught ceramics at the Ateliers pluridisciplinaires d'expression plastique de Fontblanche in Vitrolles, France, between 1977 and 1979, and at the École des arts décoratifs and the École des beaux-arts in Geneva, between 1979 and 2005, and 1991 and 2005, respectively.
She was nominated as an expert to the Swiss Federal Office of Culture in 1995 and was vice president of the International Academy of Ceramics between 2002 and 2008. Nagasawa continues to experiment with installations, sculpture and design.