The EDIDA, or ELLE DECO International Design Awards has been rewarding creative excellence in 13 categories since its launch in 2002. In 2013, the Tableware award was presented to the Dutch duo, Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings, for their “Colour Porcelain” collections developed in close collaboration with traditional craftsmen in the small town of Arita in southern Japan.
THE HISTORY OF ARITA
The art of fine porcelain was introduced into Japan in 1616 after the discovery of a white clay called kaolin in the nearby Izumiyama mountain. It was first imported into Europe in 1650 by the Dutch East India Company. Its golden age lasted until the mid-18th century as millions of pieces of “aritaware” were transported across the seas. Its porcelain was particularly sought after for its wonderfully delicate grey-white tone, its vivid colours and often highly ornate decoration.
From its high point in the mid-1700s, the industry went into a steady decline, accentuated in the 1990s after the collapse of the Japanese economic bubble. Yet, a small community of local craftsmen and manufacturing companies resisted and remain, preserving skills and traditions that were threatened with extinction. In order to ensure their survival, an innovative initiative was required.
It saw the light of day in 2012 when the Japanese designer Teruhiro Yanagihara was appointed creative director of a new ceramics brand, 1616/Arita Japan. One of his first moves was to invite Scholten and Baijings to develop a line in collaboration with local manufacturer, Momota Touen. The result was the Colour Porcelain collections. The duo took particular interest in the traditional colours of aritaware, such as aquarelle blue, light green and reddish orange, reapplying them in a strikingly modern fashion on a set of contemporary, highly functional tableware. The success and international acclaim was almost instantaneous, not the least of which was the EDIDA award.
They are now at the heart of an exciting new chapter in Arita’s history. 2016 sees the celebration of the industry’s 400th anniversary and to mark this momentous milestone, a new collection was launched at the Milan furniture fair. Called “2016/”, it brings together new creations by 16 internationally recognised designers, such as Stefan Diez, Christian Haas and Studio Wieki. Each worked in association with one of ten different Arita potteries, one of which has actually been producing porcelain since 1775! The goal is clear: to make aritaware once more relevant, and desirable to a new generation. To create a new golden age by combining the finest Japanese craftsmanship with the very best of global design. And to make it last.
More about 1616/Arita Japan
Visit the webiste: www.1616arita.jp/en/
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