This exhibition will bring the works of Momoko and Tetsuya Otani from Japan to New York for a special exhibition of their respective collections.
Videography and Production: Matthew Johnson
“An Exhibition of Ceramic Works by Momoko and Tetsuya Otani”
Husband and wife ceramicists, Momoko and Tetsuya Otani handcraft their works in a shared pottery studio adjacent to their home in the Shigaraki mountains. Their styles are different – Momoko creating works from iron-rich local clay that has decorative surface texture, while Tetsuya prefers porcelain and a minimal aesthetic. Although there are dichotomies, their pieces are similarly functional for everyday use and combine in perfect harmony at a table setting.
The exhibition expands our selection of Momoko and Tetsuya’s collections to include their full range of work for one week only. In addition to their individual collections, we will present collaboration pieces. One such collaboration, between the duo themselves, is a series of plates that are first made by Tetsuya with his signature matte porcelain, then completed by Momoko’s dark blue hand painted line drawings.
On Friday, August 18, the Otani couple including their three daughters will be present at the Opening Reception of this exhibition, in which refreshments and specialty Shigaraki sake (brought by the Otanis from Japan) will be served. On August 20, there will be a pour-over drip Coffee Demonstration by Tetsuya Otani from 1-2PM.
Full details below:
Please RSVP to the Opening Reception here. All items will become available for purchase on a first-come, first-served basis when doors open at 7PM on opening night.
Note: The collection is available in limited quantities. Most items will be available for immediate take away. Pick up dates on a selection of items will be scheduled upon checkout and begin following the final exhibition day.
Poster image by Armando Rafael Moutela
One morning in January, it was with immense joy that we hopped on a train from Kyoto bound for a small station in Shigaraki where we were to meet Momoko and Tetsuya Otani – husband and wife, potters, and parents to three daughters. The Otanis are interesting because although their work is distinct and their brands are separate entities, it’s difficult to speak of one without the other as they not only share a physical studio space and kiln, but their studio is also an extension of their home.
Since Momoko and Tetsuya work and live on the same property, and even have a showroom on the premise, it feels as if their work and private life are one. Our conversations start with work and always inevitably integrate anecdotes of personal life.
Such a wonderful life they’ve built for themselves in the Shigaraki mountain tops! Their three daughters and golden retriever ran around the house while we all talked over tea about their upcoming exhibition at our store in August (details coming soon!).
Their cupboards and shelves are full of beautiful works – some very familiar pieces by friends but mostly of their own pieces. Their individual pottery style is very different from one another but their collections can be used at the same table setting in a harmonious way.
Tetsuya’s smooth white pieces against Momoko’s decorative works are in many ways the perfect combination and there was no better place to see how they play off of one another then in their recently built showroom.
The top of their kiln is lined with pyrometric cones that absorb heat to determine how a kiln fire is progressing. Each firing can only hold a certain amount so when we looked at the number of pieces drying on the shelf that are in line to enter the kiln, it really put it into perspective the limited quantity they are able to make. It really is just two hands making each piece! We started preparing for our August exhibition with the couple two years ago and even with that much notice, creating all the pieces for the show with their busy schedule seems like an insurmountable task. We will all be able to breathe easy come the opening on August 18th!
Once in their studio, it was clear that they each had their own working space. Momoko’s area is colourful with paintbrushes, bright green paint and pencil crayons lying around. She has all kinds of tools for scratching and marking and an inspiration wall pinned with pictures of lotus flowers and cats.
Watching Tetsuya quietly sitting as he made a strainer for a teapot, one tiny hole at a time, gave us a lot of insight into his work. The lifestyle of a potter seems well suited for his temperament. The whole time he was doing this, he had a smile on his face. Not all people have this kind of patience.
On the other hand, there’s an artists’ sensitivity that Momoko brings to the table that is nothing short of inspiring. I look at her hand painted and sgrafitto works with all of their colour, strokes and texture and think that she has a talent that only a handful of people apply in their everyday professions. She has managed to do what she loves and make a living out of it.
We’ve always known Tetsuya is a coffee lover, with all of the coffee accessories that he makes, like the pour over coffee dripper. But it was only on this trip that we discovered the extent of his coffee making mastery. He’s broken the steps down to an art involving scales and timers (and iphone light!). We were so entranced by this moment that we knew we needed to have Tetsuya do a drip coffee demo at the store in August for everyone to enjoy (again, details coming soon)!
It is always sad to say goodbye to this amazing couple but we can’t wait to reunite in August. For all the ceramic lovers out there, if you can make it to the exhibition it will be well worth it. The whole family is coming to NY including their three daughters and we will have their full range of works outside of what is currently online. It’s going to be a fun one!
Thank you to the Otani family for the incredible hospitality!
Photos by Armando Rafael Moutela.
We were recently interviewed by intelligence Magazine and wanted to thank their team for the in-depth feature! Check out the latest issue for the full sixteen page story where we reveal our top ‘objects for living’, talk about our enduring store concept and what it’s like to work with your significant other!
Special thanks to Chais Mingo who we had the pleasure of being interviewed by and to Matthew Johnson for photographing us and the store.
We all have cutlery we consider “our faves”. The ones that get us excited to set the table, to actually properly set it. Mitsuhiro Konishi’s cutlery is that type. Knowing this, it should not have come as a surprise how enjoyable the installation was for our Table Elements exhibition. The days leading up to our exhibition openings are usually a whirlwind of activity and prep work but this set up was quite the opposite. It was a breeze because Konishi’s work is so beautiful it speaks for itself. For those who were unable to attend the show, here’s a recap of our exhibition week.
We spent the night before the opening reception emptying the store, bringing in new fixtures we designed specifically for the event, unpacking and setting up. The long and low tables were a way to showcase Konishi’s comprehensive collection in a concentrated area of our space. In our opinion, the store never looked better. It was expansive and calmer than usual.
After we laid everything out and opening night came around, we took a step back to realize that the connection between Konishi’s background as sculptor and his cutlery was even clearer to see when his complete collection, including his artwork, were side by side. We hope that everyone was able to get that sense, especially after viewing his metal wall hangings and wire sculptures.
The “Smoky” series, a collection of abstract wire sculptures embedded behind frosted glass, enticed viewers to come in close, while the metal wall hangings looked like medieval armor in their stark black frames. He continues to make artwork although his main focus these days is to develop the cutlery line.
Konishi’s cutlery have so much rich texture, layering and intricate details that people’s first instinct is usually to pick them up and look at them from all angles, much in the same way they observe his artwork. The number one question is usually, how are they made?
To better explain the process, we prepared a display that showed an abbreviated example of all the steps it takes to get to the final product. Konishi uses a variety of methods to make cutlery. Recently, he has been forging metal but this display showcased a different process wherein he uses a template to cut out a sheet of stainless steel. There are approximately ten steps to creating a Serving Spoon, from hammering the form and finally ending with boiling the steel head in green tea to prevent tarnishing.
To commemorate our long-standing relationship with Konishi, we embarked on a project to design the perfect cutlery piece to launch at this exhibition. As pancake addicts, we have always longed for a serving utensil that could stand alongside the handcrafted dinnerware elements at our breakfast table. Now the only dilemma we’re left with is, Silver Dollar or Dutch?
So much has been said about Konishi’s skills as a metalsmith and the beautiful characteristics of his work that he has managed to go unsung for his great personality. He’s a genuinely humble and talented guy. We loved hanging with him in New York as much as we do in Japan. We also had the pleasure of getting to know Kimiko, Konishi’s wife, who came to New York all the way from Gifu for the occasion. Both are sculptors and actually met in art school so we all had common ground from the get-go.
The two of them really impressed us during their stay in New York because in a short period of time, they managed to hit up a museum everyday, the big players to boot – like Met, Dia Beacon, Moma and Guggenheim. We knew they would be in their element visiting art museums but one major architectural site we had to bring them to was the Oculus designed by Calatrava… sure enough the two of them were instant fans of the sculptural structure.
It was an honor to spend time with Konishi and Kimiko in New York. Their company was a reminder of the simple idea that art should not be separate from the everyday objects that we use and moments we experience.
You can view the Mitsuhiro Konishi cutlery collection here. It has recently been updated with a few new items and several more series will be added in the coming weeks. Special thanks to Konishi, Kimiko and everyone involved in this exhibition – Aya Nihei, Matthew Johnson, Riza Arrieta and Faraday Okoro. Also thank you to Fujiko of mochi Rin who provided beautiful mochi we sadly did not get any pictures of (trust us, they were beautiful and equally delicious). Also, thank you to Sakaya for expertly selecting sakes from the Gifu district for opening night.
There are aspects of handcrafted products that at times a single image cannot describe. For this reason we’ve been excited to dive head first into delivering videos that depict the finer details of some of the more nuanced products we carry – Mitsuhiro Konishi’s collection of metal cutlery for our exhibition, Table Elements, being one of them. The substantial weight, rich texture and three-dimensional aspects of the works are captured perfectly in this short video.
Videography and Production: Matthew Johnson
An Exhibition of Handmade Metal Cutlery by Mitsuhiro Konishi
We are pleased to be showcasing Mitsuhiro Konishi’s metal cutlery collection during an upcoming solo exhibition, entitled Table Elements, at Nalata Nalata, New York. Mitsuhiro Konishi will be arriving from Japan for the occasion. His full collection including the mixed metal series, forged series and a new line of serving utensils will be available.We will also be releasing a new collaboratively designed metal turner for Nalata Nalata during the opening. The collection that will be on view and available for purchase is characterized by Konishi’s hand hammered textures and use of a variety of metals such as steel and brass.
Friday, June 16th marks the opening reception! Enjoy an evening of shopping and drinks + sweet and savory mochi by Mochi Rin. The works will be on view through June 22nd and available for purchase at this time. New works will be made available online after the opening reception alongside our current Mitsuhiro Konishi collection.
Details are as follows:
• Exhibition Dates: June 16 – 22, 2017
• Opening Reception: Fri, June 16, 7- 9PM. Artist Mitsuhiro Konishi in attendance. Drinks + mochi by Mochi Rin.
• Where: Nalata Nalata, 2 Extra Place, New York, NY, 10003
Please RSVP with your name to email@example.com.
Note: The collection is available in limited quantities. Items on display will be available for purchase. Pick up dates of items sold will be scheduled upon checkout and begin following the final exhibition day.
Mitsuhiro Konishi is a sculptor and blacksmith who creates handcrafted metal cutlery well known for its incorporation of textures. Konishi, originally from Okinawa, gained an appreciation of craftsmanship from his formal training as a sculptor. Sculptural characteristics are integrated into his flatware creations as a result. We will be having an exhibition of the artist’s works soon, entitled Table Elements, so we dug into our archives to find a few images from our visit to his workshop in Ena city, in hopes of further showcasing his unique process.
Konishi’s collection is special because its becoming harder and harder to find cutlery that is hand forged. Cutlery sets nowadays are usually stamped from sheets of metal, a process that is mainly machine made and finished. Forged cutlery on the other hand, is made from thick pieces of stainless steel. In the latter process, the steel is heated either in a furnace (or a blowtorch in Konishi’s case) in order to cut or shape them by repeatedly beating with a hammer and other tools.
The forging process causes the utensils to be very dense and in turn have unparalleled strength and weight. In reality, the two methods may be hard to decipher from an image or even in person just by looking at them but there are important differences that can be felt when one holds a forged utensil in the hand – Konishi highlights these characteristics in his works by integrating the marks of his hammering tools on the surfaces of each utensil. The pieces have crudeness and deliberate elemental features that we often associate with the Brutalist movement.
Konishi has invented all sorts of jigs and devices over the years to help him accomplish different shapes and series of cutlery. Since he shares his studio space with others he even built a wood hut that he enters in order to contain the loud sound of his hammering. The booth creates an intense echo but its directed backwards as he works to not disrupt others.
Join us at the event and meet Konishi! You’ll get a chance to view new series of works alongside his ‘Mixed Metal’ series and his ‘Forged Steel’ series. Learn more about how each are made as Konishi will be bringing a display that will feature various steps from his production process.
Our factory zoomer exhibition has come and gone too quickly. We were sad to take down the pieces, to say the least. Luckily we have more than enough photos that captured how beautiful Kazumi Tsuji’s collection really is. If you weren’t able to attend, hope you can get a sense of what we mean through these photos of the exhibition, of opening night and some memories of our time with Kazumi Tsuji in New York.
Firstly, here is the opening night playlist created by Pablo Luis that perfectly captures the spirit of Glass Half Full!
We’ve said it on a few occasions, but there is something magical about blown glass. Our entire gallery with glass on the shelves and natural light flooding through each piece created the most beautiful shadows and reflections – an occurrence best witnessed during this time of the year at golden hour which, luckily was right around when we opened the doors for opening night.
We were aware that Kazumi Tsuji’s exhibitions in Japan usually sell out within hours but since we were introducing her for her first solo show in New York, we weren’t sure what to expect. We quickly realized that regardless of where Tsuji-san is showcasing, there are avid collectors of her work that follow her and would go to great lengths to procure pieces. We had calls, emails and visits from across America and all over the world, of people trying to find rare items to complete their collections – a testament to how much factory zoomer is admired both in Japan and internationally.
factory zoomer creates two lines of work – one is the ‘Standard Series’, largely comprised of the studio’s black patterned works that they have been creating for many years, while the other series is the ‘Limited Edition Series’. The latter line is a special series that is constantly changing with each exhibition, much along the lines of an evolving concept collection. This time around, the limited edition items integrated the use of clear and opaque shades of gray, purple and green glass. Also, in anticipation of the exhibition we wanted to collaborate on a series so we worked with Tsuji-san and came up with the idea of creating cut whiskey glasses. We’ve always felt that its more enjoyable to be drinking a refined drink in something handcrafted, but more importantly, we love whiskey. The series turned out better than we could have ever expected.
Normally we’re not ones to plaster a logo on a product but this was done with the whiskey glasses in such an abstract, subtle way, you would never know unless someone pointed it out… which, Tsuji-san, Steve and I had a lot of fun doing with all our guests. Basically if you hold up the glass, you’ll see two capital Ns for Nalata Nalata on opposite sides. Tilt the glass and you’ll see capital Zs for Zoomer and look through the glass to see that there are two deep cut slashes that form an X, paying homage to our collaboration. We also liked the idea of a variety of different coloured glasses but incorporated a clear version as you typically want to see the colour of whiskey when you’re drinking it neat or on the rocks. The gray, green and purple glasses are ideal for muddled drinks or cocktails – like a refreshing mint julep in the green glass!
A whiskey glass collabo meant we had to have whiskey on opening night. In our usual NN style we blended the two cultures together and had a selection of whiskeys from both Japan and America. We also had whiskey punch for the amateurs. Just kidding… the punch was actually the biggest hit on the menu. We owe that to our friend Aya who poured her heart out into making it days in advance, making sure the fancy oleo-saccharum had enough time to rest, and making sure we had enough volume to fill one of Kazumi’s giant peck jugs! If you ever need a crowd pleasing whiskey based punch, this recipe is the one to use.
Melissa of Metaflora created a simple floral statement. Enough to add life but not take away from the glass works. The result was brilliant because it incorporated the use of Onion Flowers that open green and start to turn purple over time. By the end of the one-week exhibition the swirly-stemmed flowers were bright purple and green to match all the glasswares down to a T.
One of the best parts about having the artist in town is the wind down after the opening party when we get to kick back and relax. We showed Tsuji-san some places we love in the city and on her last night took her to one of our favourite piers in Greenpoint, next to The Brooklyn Barge.
The city is incredible from this lookout point, with views of all the iconic architecture including the Empire. That night it was the exhibition’s shade of purple… as if to say good-bye to Kazumi Tsuji on behalf of New York.
We owe huge thanks to an amazing team of people this time around for helping us bring this exhibition to life – Kazumi Tsuji, Aya Nihei, Jacob Turetsky, Ari Zarillo, Armando Rafael Moutela, Stefan Ayon, Matthew Johnson, Pablo Luis, Riza Arrieta, Sujin Lee, Aimee LaRose and Faraday Okoro… THANK YOU!
In celebration of our upcoming factory zoomer exhibition, Glass Half Full, we’ve created a short video that highlights the special features of founder Kazumi Tsuji’s hand-blown glassware. You can read more about the exhibition details here.
Videography and Production: Matthew Johnson
Music Direction: Pablo Luis
Music: “Ringleader” by Shigeto