Arita (有田), a tranquil and peaceful town surrounded by gentle mountains in Kyushu is the birth place of porcelain in Japan. The year was 1616. Kaolin, the raw material for porcelain production was discovered in Izumiyama quarry, located on the eastern side of the town. Porcelain pieces produced in this region is known as Aritayaki (有田焼) and for 400 years, not only did the little town of 18000 residents kept the tradition alive, they exported Aritayaki to all of Japan and all over the world.
(Photo of Mei Ling in front of Izumiyama Quarry)
As an industrial designer running a retail store, it is always my desire to create authentic Singapore content that can speak of our own stories. We almost gave up trying after being turned down by many makers. It was through a chance encounter in 2013 that we met Kihara, a porcelain label in Arita. After a time of relentless pursuit, Mr Takemasa Kihara, the founder of Kihara, decided to work with us! That was the birth of Singapore Icons, a collection of porcelain plates that eventually defined our work.
(Photo of Singapore Icons, our first porcelain collection which bagged the President's Design Award in 2013, this collection was presented to President Dr. Tony Tan during the award ceremony.)
Porcelain is quite a profound material. Also known as "white gold", it was the mark of an era, the pinnacle of industrialisation and an Asian export commodity to the West which inspired many of the porcelain brands we see today. While the world moved ahead, the traditions of Arita remained. From Shoki-Imari style to Nabeshima wares, from Kakiemon techniques to Kinrande motifs, the craft which inspired generations of Arita potters began to seek a new perspective while bearing in mind the weight of a 400 years old inheritance.
A visit to the Asian Civilisation Museum (Singapore) will informed us about the strategic location that Singapore historically functioned as a port of embarkment when porcelain was shipped from the East to the West. To have our porcelain produced with Kihara in Arita speaks not only of the high standards of quality and craftsmanship but somewhat a beautiful metaphor of the porcelain trade which transpired through our intertwined history.
From the very first Singapore Icons collection we produced in 2013 until today, we have deepen our roots with the potters in Arita. And today we also take pride in representing the widest collection of Arita porcelain, potters and labels in Singapore.
(Part of 1616 / Arita Collection by Teruhiro Yanagihara)
(Part of 2016 / Collection by Kueng Caputo)