Discover the latest clay creations from Japan
Although regional pottery from Japan has become world famous, there is one aspect of Japanese ceramics vying for more attention: the tile industry.
Dating from the 6th to 7th centuries, the tiles were once a sign of prestige and wealth reserved for temples and imperial buildings. Today a staple of architecture, most are factory made, but many are still made using traditional techniques. Some artisans find creative ways to present their products to a wider audience.
The good dirt
Creatively made by Design director Glaettli, Mino Soil is a new brand that promotes the ceramic industry of Tajimi in Gifu Prefecture. Part of what was once Mino Province, Tajimi is home to many pottery producing Minoware in various styles, from traditional tea ceremony items to contemporary fine china. It is also the center of the tile industry of Japan, where the tile supplier Company X collaborated with the tableware maker Izawa Company to launch Mino Soil, an upcoming series of indoor products designed to harness the potential of Gifu’s rich clay soil.
Mino Soil marks its debut with three collaborative exhibitions with international designers, culminating in the launch of its products. The first fair, held in Tokyo earlier this month, featured the architect Bijoy Jain from Studio Mumbai and his archaeological exploration of clay as a material.
A huge piece of fossilized wood, still saturated in water from the clay quarry in which it was found, reminded visitors of the ancient and finite nature of the clay soil, while surrounding landscape photos of the Gifu mines through Yurika Kono illustrated its provenance. Large clay cubes – some baked, others naturally dried – showed how soils mined in a single region can yield a variety of textures and colors, from off-whites to earthy browns and slate grays. Other works on display included giant spheres and other sculptural forms in unusual textures and colors – each example of experiments by tile and pottery craftsmen.
Mino Soil has an unhurried, intriguing rollout, with follow-up to Jain’s exhibit due out later this year, and some clues as to what kind of products will be released early next year. But judging by the brand’s holistic approach and its promise of high-profile artist and designer collaborations, there will certainly be some very interesting items. Keep an eye on the Mino Soil website for more details on the upcoming exhibition, which will focus on the techniques and processes of ceramic making.
Everything about Kyoto
Tableware made by traditional kawara Tile makers aren’t new, but often the products are more rustic in style, an aesthetic that suits the texture of the tile craftsmanship. Asada Kawara Factory’s Kyoto roof tile coaster, however, unites kawara craftsmanship with a new decorative technique and contemporary design.
Originally debuted as part of the booth of the Kyoto Museum of Crafts and Design’s New Era Crafts Kyoto at Tokyo International Gift Fair in February, the Kyoto Roof Tile Coaster range is just one of 43 projects developed by cottage industries with the help of the Kyoto City Traditional Industries Support Program.
It takes the unique technique of Asada Kawara Factory to decorate the silver gray ibushi tiles with Kyo-youzen screen printing and applies it to a range of different clays for a series of patterned coasters, all designed by Yoshito Nakano of the Kyoto Institute of Technology and his students.
To make the coasters more absorbent, a porous soil was added to the clay and the firing temperatures were adjusted, but the colors – beiges, browns and grays – are all naturally derived from soils used in the clothing industry. floor tile. Even the screen-printed patterns are made with clay pastes, not pigments. The result is a collection of artistic pieces, with designs by Nakano and his students drawing inspiration from geometry and nature, including stripes, pebbles, waves and even a weeping willow. These are printed on familiar tile shapes, such as circles, arabesque rhombuses, and hexagons.
Coasters are currently only available at the Asada Kawara Factory workshop, but to learn more about them and other New Era Crafts Kyoto items, visit the project’s dedicated website.
Tea and tiles
Tile manufacturer based in Shizuoka Prefecture Kawara Iki spent two years developing the Suiga kyôsu, a superb black Japanese teapot made in collaboration with a tea producer Amma Seicha. Designed by Yuto Tsukamoto, a fourth generation kawara craftsman, the unusual lid of the teapot is inspired by Mount Fuji, with imprints evoking the shape of Suruga Bay in Shizuoka Prefecture, from where the Mountain. Unlike most teapots, it does not have handles, so it can be easily operated with the right or left hand, and it has a rim on the front to prevent the lid from slipping while pouring.
The connection between tiles and tea is not as arbitrary as it seems. The first Japanese raku The tea bowl is said to have been made by Chojiro, a 16th-century tile maker under the direction of tea master Sen no Rikyu at Jurakudai Palace in Kyoto. Tile clay is also able to resist bacteria and the elements, making it tough enough for dishes, and carbon – an element that gives ibushi kawara tiles its silvery gray sheen – can absorb caffeine and catechins. . Of course, all of this needs to be changed for modern tableware. For Suiga kyūsu, Kawara Iki mixes carbon into a local clay which has been mixed with other clays to make it even more durable.
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