Ume-play and Karakusa-play
ceramics by Nendo

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Product news: Japanese studio Nendo has created a range of porcelain with patterns that play on archival designs from a traditional Japanese pottery.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

The Ume-play and Karakusa-play collections by Nendo were created in collaboration with Gen-emon, a 260-old ceramics company located in Arita, the Japanese town famed for its potteries in the Saga Prefecture on the northern part of Kyushu island.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

The process involved a re-editing of one of the firm's most well known patterns, a small plum-blossom repeat known as ume komon.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

The ceramics also play with the traditional foliage scrollwork known as kara-kusa-e.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

The process involved enlarging and re-arranging the original patterns by cutting them up, turning them upside down and layering the shapes.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

The resulting pieces seem to have an eclectic mix of patterns at first glance but are tied together by the same basic shapes and the kiln's identity of blue and white underglaze with contrasting dark and light blues.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

The traditional porcelain method was also reinterpreted by introducing a charcoal-based resist method called sumi hajiki, in contrast to the usual way of filling in outlines. This method allowed for finer lines and reduced cost.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

The ceramics will be sold at Seibu department stores in Japan from 22 October 2013.

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Photos by Akihiro Yoshida.

Some words from the designer:


Ume-play and Karakusa-play

Gen-emon is one of the most renowned Arita-yaki porcelain kilns, with a 260-year history dating to 1753.

We undertook an unorthodox re-edit of one of the kiln’s most famous patterns, a small plum flower repeat known as ‘ume komon’ and foliage scrollwork known as ‘karakusa-e’.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

Like children playing with paper, we blew up the pattern until it was enormous, as though viewed through a magnifying glass.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

We cut it up with scissors, pasted it, lined it up, turned it upside down and layered it, too.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

This faux-naïve strategy allowed us to activate Gen-emon’s key visual signifiers – the blue and white underglaze and strong contrast between the dark and light blues – while developing a rich assortment of variations.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

The result: a delightful selection of ceramics that may have different patterns, but can be used together on the table without breaking visual unity.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

Traditionally, Gen-emon’s porcelains are made by drawing the outlines, then filling in the centre.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

We introduced a charcoal-based resist method, ‘sumi hajiki’, that allows both fine lines and an accessible price for the consumer.

Patterned porcelain ceramics by Nendo

The ume-play collection upholds Gen-emon’s long history and traditions and reflects the kiln’s commitment to constant change and evolution.

  • Faye

    Beautiful. Are these available to buy?

  • yo

    Yes…where can we buy these beautiful wares?