UPCOMING EXHIBITION | BLURRING BOUNDARIES | An Exhibition of Wooden Tableware by RYUJI MITANI | Oct 20 - 29 X

Table Elements | Video




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

angelique



TABLE ELEMENTS | Cutlery Exhibition – Mitsuhiro Konishi | June 16-22

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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 hello@nalatanalata.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.

angelique



Spotlight on Mitsuhiro Konishi

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

stevenson



Glass Half Full | factory zoomer Exhibition Recap

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

angelique



Glass Half Full | Video




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

angelique



GLASS HALF FULL | Exhibition – Kazumi Tsuji + factory zoomer | May 12-20

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“Discovering the Joy of Glassware through an Exhibition of Works by Kazumi Tsuji + factory zoomer”

We will be welcoming celebrated glass artist Kazumi Tsuji, founder of factory zoomer, to New York for her first solo exhibition in the States! The exhibition coincides with NYCxDESIGN week and will include a large selection of the factory zoomer mouth-blown glassware collection for purchase. Along with the main collection will be a special series of rock-cut whiskey glasses that we have designed in collaboration with Kazumi Tsuji.

Drinkware, pitchers, bowls, plates and containers will be available, all featuring the studio’s well known hand etched glass, tinted, painted white enamel, and black cut enamel techniques. Kazumi Tsuji hopes that the collection speaks to individuals with their unique glassblown characteristics in the hopes that “people may find happiness in the palm of their hands.”

Details are as follows:

• Exhibition Dates: May 12 – 20, 2017
• Opening Reception: May 12, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Meet Kazumi Tsuji.
• Where: Nalata Nalata, 2 Extra Place, New York, NY, 10003 

Kazumi Tsuji will be bringing confectionaries from her hometown of Kanazawa and drinks will be provided on opening night. Please RSVP with your first and last name to hello@nalatanalata.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.

Poster image: Matthew Johnson

stevenson



Three Kyoto Pit Stops

A lot of our clients have mentioned that they are heading to Japan so we wanted to do a quick post about three great spots in Kyoto that we would highly recommend. There are already tons to see there, as I’m sure you know, but these are places we discovered thanks to our friend Aya Nihei, that will not disappoint. Star these locations and make a day out of it – one’s a gallery (Nichinichi), one’s a bookstore (Seikosha) and one’s a bar (Shuto Yanagino) so you have your basic ingredients for a successful day right off the bat. These images are from our last trip.


Nichinichi Gallery
Address: 602-0875 Kyoto Kamigyo-ku Shintomi-cho 298, Japan

 

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Nichinichi is a gallery/tea shop/guesthouse/garden in one. Tucked away on a side street with no signage, it’s not a place you stumble upon, you have to know it’s there. When you first open the sliding doors to this establishment, it’s hard to grasp what you’ve stepped foot into but once you start exploring, the place is mind blowing. The front entrance is like the foyer of a welcoming home where you can comfortably take off your shoes in exchange for slippers. Specializing in Japanese applied arts and craft housewares, the gallery also has a tearoom and a rentable guesthouse. The founders did an incredible job in embedding a calm sensibility to all their curations and interior design choices. Everything is placed with love and we can tell. Definitely take the time to enjoy some tea, which Aya describes as sawa – something like a tea lounge experience, in between a formal tea ceremony and casual tea with friends.

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Seikosha Books
Address: 602-0871 Kyoto Kamigyo-ku Tawaraya-cho 437, Japan


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After managing one of Japan’s most respected bookstores Keibunsha Ichijoji for over a decade, Atsushi Horibe set out to open his own bookstore with his wife in 2015. The result is a bookstore so charming it melts your heart the second you’re greeted by Horibe and his wife at the door. One Kyoto evening Aya brought us to Seikosha to introduce us to the owners and show us the location in which she’ll be having a pop-up book release for her new book in mid-August. We had such a great time exploring the shelves of books, magazines and the small collection of rare vintage photography books. We also got to meet Kitchen! A photographer who was having a launch event that evening for his book that highlights couples who work together – Kitchen calls the idea “Double Income” and of course we fell in love with the concept.

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Shuto Yanagino Bar
Address: Kyoto Sanjo Sinmachi Nishi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Japan


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Although Shuto Yanagino is a restaurant and bar, it’s heavier on the bar atmosphere. It’s where to go for a classic cocktail in an ultra-minimalist setting. The owner Yaganino-san, will likely be behind the wood bar ready to offer expert recommendations for sake, natural wines and specialty cocktails. One hanging bud vase is the only décor in the front room allowing the more decorative antique glasses to shine. Glasses and bottles are hidden away from sight or stored in cabinets. There aren’t any English menus so be prepared to experiment if you can’t read Japanese.

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Special thanks to Aya Nihei for the great recommendations!

stevenson



Toshiya Archery Competition at Sanjusangen-do Temple

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Every year in Kyoto, come the second week of January, the streets are flooded with young men and women lugging around exceptionally tall bamboo bows and feathered arrows. It’s the day after Coming of Age Day and 20 year olds from all across Japan are on their way to Tōshiya, the 400-year-old archery competition at the Sanjūsangen-dō Temple.

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When we were in Kyoto for our annual winter trip, the event took us completely off guard but we were glad to be at the right place at the right time to witness such a deep-rooted tradition. We initially intended to go to the temple to say a few prayers for the New Year amongst the 1001 life size brass statues of Bodhisattva Kannons. The statues are made of Japanese cypress with real gold leaf. Each one has different facial features and it is said that you will find the face of someone you love in at least one of them. Luck was on our side – we saw lots of familiar faces and lots of skilled archers in one go.

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The Tōshiya competition brings together Kyūdō archery enthusiasts to commemorate the story of a samurai, Asaoka Heibei, who in 1606 was so skilled in archery he managed to shoot a bow and arrow the length of the temple 100 times in rapid succession and hit the target 51 times. Quite a feat considering the Sanjūsangen-dō temple is the longest wooden building in Japan.

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Everyone was dressed for the occasion. The contestants wearing colourful kimono, trouser-type hakamas and crisp white tabi socks.

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Although the official contestants are all 20 years of age, there are older archers who do demonstrations throughout the day. It’s pretty amazing to watch the older generation go at it – so poised and skilled. We managed to get a short clip of the action. Take a look and if this amazing Japanese martial art of archery is of interest, book your next trip to Japan for the second Sunday of January!




Photography: Armando Rafael

stevenson



Yuichi Takemata at Sayuu

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For those unfamiliar with Yuichi Takemata, he is a metal artist and the owner of Sayuu, a beautiful gallery in Kanazawa. He began his career repairing antiques, mostly jewelry, and eventually found a niche in designing bespoke rings and table cutlery. These days you’ll find Takemata-san at Sayuu where you can watch him hand hammering away in a small atelier at the back of the gallery.

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Yuichi Takemata is intimidatingly impressive – often dressed in dark clothes and a man of few words. His hand hammering is captivating yet his jewelry inspires awe with their delicacy.

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We initially discovered Takemata-san through his cutlery works. They called to us with their unusual surface texture, especially the Ryo series that has feather-like scratches giving them the appearance of well-loved antiques.

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Hard to capture in images but the satisfying weight of the cutlery is also worth mentioning.

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We didn’t quite realize the extent of Takemata-san’s jewelry collection until we visited him. His jewelry creations are gorgeous!

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If you’re in the market for engagement rings or wedding bands, make your life easier and just make one stop at Sayuu. The tough part then becomes which one to choose, as each one, perched on their mini pedestals, seems more beautiful then the last.

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The gallery is also full of little treasures Takemata-san has collected over the years. Centuries old knives and urns that display his love for antiques in all their perfect imperfections.

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After the inspiring visit, we explored the area by night. The old district of Kanazawa is called Higashi Chaya. During the Edo period it used to be where geisha would entertain people in teahouses, perform dances and play musical instruments. This historical area is one of three old districts designated as Japan’s cultural assets so walking through the maze of little alleys brings you right back to another time. The old teahouses have all been preserved – they are mostly two stories and were built in dark stained wood with lattice façades. Today various specialty restaurants and artisan shops such as Sayuu, occupy them – rightfully so. By looking at the wonderful establishment Takemata-san has created, Higashi Chaya is in great hands.

Thank you to Yuichi Takemata for having us and to Noriyasu Moritada for facilitating this special encounter.
Photography: Armando Rafael

angelique



A Day with Kazumi Tsuji of factory zoomer

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Typically it takes us awhile to get a Journal recap up about our trips to Japan but this time we made it a point to post quicker than usual. This trip was incredible and we wanted to share while the feeling was fresh. Japan has a way of transforming our pace of life, one that is drastically different from our lifestyles in New York. Value systems differ, traditions are adhered to, and time seems to slow down. It’s this combination that keeps the country, at least for us, novel enough to remain curious about what it has to offer even after all these years of traveling there.

We started the trip with a visit to glass artist Kazumi Tsuji of Factory Zoomer in Kanazawa. We’ll be having a Factory Zoomer exhibition this coming May during New York design week so we wanted to discuss details and finalize our collaboration with her beforehand.

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From beginning to end Tsuji-san led the way with her upbeat energy. She has a rare outgoing personality in a culture that is often reserved. We first met Tsuji-san when she came to visit our gallery in New York so it was nice that on this occasion we had the chance to meet up with her on her own turf.

As the founder of renowned glass making studio, Factory Zoomer, Tsuji-san is a busy woman. In 2010 she also became the chief director of the Seikatsu Kogei project – a movement that started in Kanazawa with the aim of getting users and creators (or viewers and artists) to think of the importance of the existence of objects in our daily lives. A concept we have always innately used to assess products we carry in our store but only now are able to grasp in words with the help of artisans such as Tsuji-san who are exploring this fairly new realm of “lifestyle crafts”. It’s a big topic to tackle but we’ll share our insights in our Journal as we go.

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Tsuji-san predominantly divides her time between three spaces – her glassmaking studio, the Factory Zoomer Shop and the Factory Zoomer Gallery. She also brought us to a couple of her go-to spots outside of “work” and considering all the great places she frequents, it was clear that she knows her way around the city. Right off the bat she brought us to a super good sushi spot for lunch called Reki Reki. We all satisfied our cravings for sashimi with fresh tuna, uni, and mackerel and while we were at it couldn’t resist some afternoon sake. The sushi counter is right at the front entrance of the famous Omi-cho fish market so it really doesn’t get fresher than that!

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Tsuji-san is as much of a coffee fiend as us, something we realized when she mentioned she hadn’t had her morning coffee fix yet and ushered us into her fave café, Higashide Coffee. She’s the type that feels like a longtime friend – incredibly open and within five minutes she’s telling us her life story… about her first glass mentor Narcissus Quagliata, her University days in California, about successes, setbacks, and even her early dreams of working for Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons. She says it all with a laugh, never taking herself too seriously. As one of Japan’s most acclaimed artisans, its quite amazing that she has next to no ego.

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Tsuji-san first shows us her gallery. The gallery acts as a space for showcasing Factory Zoomer glass works along with the collections of other artists and designers.

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While we were there she and her staff were preparing for a textile exhibition entitled Light Years. She also displays the works of renowned artisans such as Ryuji Mitani and Masanobu Ando, her good friends that we also had the chance to visit during this trip… we’ll get around to posting about those visits in the coming weeks.

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Onwards to the Factory Zoomer shop, where we first fell in love with Tsuji-san’s work…

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When we mentioned that the first Factory Zoomer piece we acquired for our personal collection was a small glass bowl with tiny polka dots on it’s surface, Tsuji-san immediately packed up a nice little set of similar pieces for us as a gift. To this day the bowl is still one of our favourites for small snacks like dried fruits, so we were so happy to finally add to our collection. We’ll definitely have pieces from this series during the exhibition in May.

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We’ve always liked how intimate the shop feels. Sometimes someone is even there to serve you coffee from a small counter. You can then sit back and enjoy it at a small table near the front of the store and feel right at home. We thought the sink Tsuji-san made for the bathroom also added to the intimate atmosphere. When something as commonplace as a bathroom sink is custom handmade, it feels like a lot of affection went into the environment’s creation.

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Afterwards, we drove to the next location, the Factory Zoomer glass atelier. It was glass blowing demonstration time. I especially liked seeing Tsuji-san in this setting where she was totally in her element. She looked so comfortable and took command, all the while remaining in control when blowing glass fresh out of 1200 degree furnace temperatures.

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Tsuji-san along with her small group of skilled, seasoned staff creates all the pieces by hand. They are well trained in a variety of glass making techniques to accomplish different forms and surface treatments.

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After the demonstration we all went to a small building beside the workshop that acted as an office and library. There she explained that her brand is called Factory Zoomer because an ex boyfriend had shortened her first name, Kazumi, to ‘Zoom’ since she was always speedy and on the go.

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She also prepared tea, showed us a logbook of glass pieces and projects she’s created throughout the decades. Her work is immense – some is conceptual, some humorous. All of it has an amazing story.

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Near the end of the studio tour while the crew was chatting with Tsuji-san and her staff was working away, I stole a moment for myself to take in the stunning view that surrounds the studio. It overlooks a grape vineyard and by night the gnarled branches look straight out of a surreal Van Gogh painting. In that moment I realized that as much as we try, it’s nearly impossible to grasp the full scope of an artists’ works and thoughts as an outsider looking in. Even after witnessing an artisan like Tsuji-san’s complete operations in person, I felt like her life’s work was so vast and ever changing that it would take years of research and interviews with her to understand the full context. The closest connection we have is maybe to simply own a piece of hers in our homes. In that way something like a cup, bowl or plate slowly becomes a part of our own lives, and eventually gains in beauty. This thought is to some extent the meaning of Seikatsu Kogei – as much as an object may appeal to us as a beautiful work of art, the intent of an artist such as Tsuji-san is for it to be used and appreciated as a functional household object.

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One thing’s for sure, for individuals as accomplished as Tsuji-san, it will take more than one studio visit to understand the breadth of her work as a glass artist. Consider this as just the beginning. We’ve only skimmed the surface.

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After the enlightening tour we had to take it down a notch in intensity with a good ol’ meal and chatter. Tsuji-san brings us through a labyrinth of narrow twisting streets. We finally arrive at a soba restaurant called Kyomi Kai.

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A couple operates the place so of course Steve and I instantly like it. It’s just the two of them – the husband makes seasonal dishes from homemade soba flour while the wife works the front end with the best hospitality we’ve ever seen! The couple was so kind and each dish highlighted a special seasonal ingredient alongside unusual soba preparations.

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That’s it! That was our unforgettable day with Tsuji-san. It was made even more memorable because of the awesome people we got to share it with. We actually rolled to Japan this time as a bigger team with the accompaniment of Armando Rafael, one of our talented photographers, and Aya Nihei, one of our talented contributors! You’ll be seeing a lot more of them in our upcoming Journal entries.

If you’re in New York in May, come meet Tsuji-san at our exhibition, she is such a brilliant force.

Special thanks to Kazumi Tsuji and her team for their time.
Photography: Armando Rafael

angelique