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.
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.
All their furniture has clean, basic lines and a sense of peace, combined with beauty.
Shotoku Glass exhibited their new Ando drinking glasses designed by Jasper Morrison, very fine with clean, simple lines.
In the Everyday products section I was very taken with this kettle and casserole by the iconic Japanese designer 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.
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?’
These ceramic bells make a gentle sound when you ring them.
Exhibited alongside the pottery are some lovely kokeshi dolls.
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.