Simplified Beauty at the London Design Festival

Mashiko Pottery I love the London Design Festival. it runs for a week (or so) every September and showcases an incredible variety of design talent all across London in what it calls Design Quarters. I spent the first day in the Shoreditch Design Quarter visiting Simplified Beauty at SCP on Curtain Street. It featured a number of modern Japanese designers, including my all-time favourite, Mashiko Potteries.

The exhibition is billed as a celebration of things made as they should be and features Ishinomaki Laboratory, Mashiko Potteries, Shotoku Glass Company and a selection of everyday utilitarian Japanese products made in the Mingei (folk craft) spirit. The Japanese part of the exhibition has been curated by SCP designer Reiko Kaneko, and the designs of Brooklyn-based designers Fort Standard and other SCP designers are also featured. But it’s the Japanese designers I focused on, as you would expect.

Mashiko Potteries

Ishinomaki Laboratory was started in 2011 as a post-tsunami community workshop in Tohoku, to help people restock their homes and kitchens after the disaster. They produce incredibly simple wooden furniture, like this stool, which comes in kit form, by Keiji Ashizawa, one of the company’s founders.

Keiji Ashizawa

All their furniture has clean, basic lines and a sense of peace, combined with beauty.

Ishinomaki Laboratory

Shotoku Glass exhibited their new Ando drinking glasses designed by Jasper Morrison, very fine with clean, simple lines.

Shotoku Glass

In the Everyday products section I was very taken with this kettle and casserole by the iconic Japanese designer Sori Yanagi.

Sori Yanagi

It’s the sense of peace that shines through, combined with a meticulous attention to the functionality of the object, also in evidence in these wooden bowls and dishes by Matsunoya.


Mashiko lovers will be thrilled to know that there’s a good range of their pottery on show, and even more thrilled to find it’s on sale, at reasonable prices – mainly in the £14 – £24 price range. though some, like this square bowl, come in a bit pricier at £94.

Mashiko Potteries

A quick recap – Mashiko is a village in Tochigi, north of Tokyo where Shoji Hamada, friend and mentor of Bernard Leach, established the Mingei movement, making simple, functional pottery in the folk craft tradition. Mashiko was affected by the Tohoku earthquake but is now back to producing its lovely pots, led by Tomoo Hamada, Shoji’s grandson. Mashiko potters don’t sign their pots – Hanada says, ‘the pot is no better off having your name on it. It’s like signing your face. Why would you do that?’

Mashiko Potteries

These ceramic bells make a gentle sound when you ring them.

Mashiko Potteries

Exhibited alongside the pottery are some lovely kokeshi dolls.

Simplified Beauty

The exhibition continues until 21st September, but I suggest you hurry if you want to buy any of the pottery as it’s selling fast. SCP is at 135-139 Curtain Road, a short walk from Old St tube station. It’s open Monday to Friday 9:30 am to 8 pm, Saturday 9:30 am to 6 pm, Sunday 11 am to 5 pm.

Mashiko Potteries

10 thoughts on “Simplified Beauty at the London Design Festival

      • Celadon – thank you I’ve learnt something new this afternoon. I’ve seen and liked that look for a while and didn’t know it had a specific name and such a history. Having googled it there are some beautiful pieces aren’t there? Rather liked the look of a Ming Dynasty piece only it happens to belong to the Smithsonian in Washington!!


  1. Hi there Fran,
    Thank you for this. My brother was a potter in west wales and passed away when he was only 32: Shoji Hamada was one of his idols. I subsequently married a japanese man and went to Machiko on my honeymoon. Thank you for this beautiful memory. By the way you have quoted his grandson’s name as Hanada – is it meant to be Hamada?
    Keep on sending these beautiful images.


    • Hi Anna
      How wonderful to spend your honeymoon in Mashiko! I haven’t been there yet but hope to go some day. I love Mashiko pottery and I’m thrilled we’re starting to see more of it in the UK.

      I’ve fixed the spelling now – thanks for the tip.


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