My fascination with the Japanese tea ceremony isn’t anything new, I suppose it comes from my general attraction towards the lifestyle and mentality over there. I also quite like the idea of Buddhism and zen, this is also a theme that I tend to see in other designers that I admire, it’s sort of weird how everything links together in a way. Charles and Ray Eames for example had definite ties with Japan, even holding a Japanese tea ceremony at their famous house in Los Angeles. The guests included sculptor Isamu Noguchi, poet Iris Tree, and actors Charlie Chaplin and Ford Rainey.
Outside of the mainstream design world, even though they’re linked in more ways than one might think, you have someone like Bernard Leach in the pottery field who really promoted Japanese crafts over here in the UK and Europe specifically. He was also a link between the two countries where he would often bring back styles and also implement Western ones in the Japanese field, educating those over there with Shoji Hamada and Soetsu Yanagi. These folks achieved some amazing things in their time and if it wasn’t for them we’d probably have a nonchalant attitude towards handmade products, they are still inspiring creatives and makers today with their books and writings. It’s also just generally inspiring to hear about the ethos that they had and to take a bit of this traditional thinking back in to our own working way.
Some like Sori Yanagi, Soetsu Yanagi’s son, really epitomise great design in my eyes. He’s used all of knowledge passed down from his father, and his respect for craftsmanship, to become someone who could mix both traditional methods and modern manufacturing. This is not easy to do, but it means you can design objects that are authentic and that will stand the test of time. Sori has proven it over the years as his products are still relevant and are sold all over the world, which follows his ideology: true beauty is not made, it is born naturally.
Today I thought I’d pull up some classic Japanese tea inspiration, which is all thanks to art gallery/shop Kamon Engineering. They have a unique selection, selling craft work from a variety of different fields and in a mixture of materials. One of my favourite items has to be in the photo above, a beautiful handmade metal bowl where you can see all the little hammer marks, quite exquisite. This is one of those stores that I’d love to visit as they look like they have a vast amount of knowledge and a lot of information inside, such as historic context to the products. An individual like myself is passionate about the details so this is sure to excite me.