Foster is comprised of three series of crafted objects and is the result of our collaboration with Ibuki, a part of Kyoto Takumijuku – a non-profit organization based in Sonobe, Nantan-city, Kyoto prefecture. Ibuki is a group of young master craftsmen from varying disciplines with the common goal of preserving Japan’s traditional crafts through education and practice. During our time in Sonobe we worked with two wood craftsmen, Kenta Kuzuhara and Kozo Sumitani, and one ceramicist, Hiroshi Nagai. Our desire in this collaboration was to develop design concepts that would challenge the skill set of each craftsman, while remaining pure in the aesthetic value and practical in use. The beauty of the materials, the honesty of the techniques, and the warmth we found in the masters of Ibuki are the inspiration for Foster.
All of the objects in the Foster collection are a direct result of the dedication and thoroughness of the Ibuki craftsmen. The attention to detail, and the willingness to learn and to be surprised by the possibilities of their craft, are qualities we wanted to capture in each series.
The five wooden Foster cases are made from Kitayama Sugi, a cedar that is typical of Kyoto and is one of the most prestigious types of wood in Japan. The surface of each case is treated with Fuki-Urushi, a semi-transparent Urushi lacquer that darkens the wood and highlights the natural beauty of the grain. To emphasize the feeling of prestige surrounding the use of Kitayama Sugi, each case features a ‘slice’ of the raw, un-styled wood, paying homage to the long tradition and exclusivity of the material. The cases are constructed using joinery in the Kyoto style, meaning the mechanics of the joints are hidden inside the connected parts, and are not visible when viewing the object. Appearing simple at first glance, the cases hide a durability and detail that is the hallmark of traditional Japanese woodworking. The unique proportions of the objects pays homage to asymmetry, a quality that was typical of the traditional Japanese craft aesthetic, but became more rare as Japan’s idea of beauty shifted westward. Each case in this series opens in its own distinctive way. The case functions both as a storage place for precious objects, and as a stage for displaying the treasures within.
All the ceramic pieces are hand-thrown. In many traditional ceramics from Japan, vessels are decorated with random dripping patterns. In each series we have played with the dripping and pouring of liquid-clay, before firing, letting it inform not only the aesthetic of the finished piece, but the function as well.
The Foster pouring vessels are composed of a sauce bowl, a salad bowl and a carafe. All three vessels are symmetrical in form, with two mirrored spouts on either side. The light-colored liquid clay is poured through one of the spouts before firing, and the resulting pattern is a permanent reference to the asymmetrical function of the vessel; one side for pouring, one side for holding. The spouts on the salad bowl function both as a carrying handles and useful nooks in which to rest serving utensils.
The three Foster drinking cups are stacked together before liquid clay is dripped over the surface. The resulting pattern is what makes this series of ceramic vessels unique. When placed separately the dripped pattern is broken, giving each cup its own defining surface. When placed together the pattern in made complete. The quiet simplicity of the cups highlights the pureness and authenticity of the Japanese ceramic tradition, while simultaneously creating a modern take on this most ancient craft.
With special thanks to:
Kyoto Takumijuku: Hiroki Takahashi, Hiroshi Nagai, Kenta Kuzuhara, Kozo Sumitani, Mami Ogura
Pantaloon: Tomoharu Shiiya, Aya Nakano, Keita Inoue
Yoshiaki Kokufu, Mami Yamada, Hideaki Okamura, Salem van der Swaagh