Forging Shadows | Takayoshi Narita Exhibition Recap

We had a great time during last week’s Forging Shadows exhibition. Although Takayoshi Narita works in only two materials, stainless steel and wrought-iron, the textures on his works are so compelling and full of character it makes installation of the show a blast because of it. It was the first time seeing the store in all metal works. A glimpse into the installation process can be seen in this video.

When setup is complete, we always take photos of the works on display before the opening night while everything is still intact. Often it feels like the last chance we’ll get to hold some of the pieces. That is especially true for this exhibition as the textures on the metal surfaces were so unique they looked vastly different from one to another. It was easy to get attached to specific ones for that reason.

The iron bowls with a blue toned urushi lacquer were the pieces most of us became attached to. The finish is created with urushi blended with bengara, a red powder pigment that when fired oxidizes to a dark navy tone. Such showstoppers, but they are going to a good home!

Narita-san’s treatment on the stainless steel works are like none other we’ve seen. The matte, textured surfaces are achieved through hand hammering, heating and cooling, multiple times in quick succession. There is no powder coating or additional finish – very different to the polished, mirrored stainless steel we are accustomed to.

The concept behind the collaboration piece for this exhibition was about highlighting the incredible textures that Narita-san is able to achieve. We created cutlery boxes because the long uninterrupted planes showcase that effect perfectly. Two types were created – a wrought-iron cutlery box and a stainless steel cutlery box.

Some friends and family showed up early on opening night to help out. Ayako and Wataru came straight from Burrow with freshly baked bites inspired by Narita-san’s frying pans – ‘Sunny Side Egg Cookies’ with coconut cream and mango pâte de fruit ,‘Bite Sized Quiche’ with caramelized onion and gruyere and ‘Caviar Pancakes’ with buckwheat and sour cream!

We chose to display a selection of cookware on a center table where you can really get a sense of the variety of specialty pans the artisan creates from tamagoyaki pans and sauté pans to oval lidded pans and two-handled woks.

We’ve been frequently using the pan Narita-san made us during our studio visit and its truly remarkable how thoughtfully designed and well crafted they are. The rivets on the frying pan that attaches the handle to the basin absorb the heat so the majority of heat doesn’t transfer up the handle. More importantly it’s simply a better cooking experience! Food tastes better due to the even heat distribution and high iron content, and the pans are so lightweight. It was nice seeing people come multiple times throughout the week who had made similar observations after using their pan for the first time.

If you follow our Journal, you knew this photo was coming. It’s not an exhibition opening without the obligatory team photo on Extra Place alley! This time we have so many wonderful people to thank – especially Aya Nihei for her help with coordination, Owen Smith-Clark for videography and installation, the team at Studio Newwork for their beautiful print materials, Paul Lewis for the exhibition playlist, John Medley for the fixture build out, the team at Burrow for catering, Armando Rafael Moutela on product photography and Hazuki Uno for Care Manual illustrations. Also special thanks to Joshua Skirtich, Yina Shan, Daniel Chmielewski, Stefan Ayon, and Nau Kim for their assistance on opening night.

Written by Angélique Chmielewski

Angélique Chmielewski

October 20, 2018

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