The end of our Masanobu Ando exhibition, Shaping the Void, has come and gone. One thing we can all agree on is that the show was one of our best. Here are some highlights from our time with Ando-san and moments from the exhibition.

When Ando-san arrived in New York, one of the first things he did was add finishing touches to some of the works. The more delicate elements like the copper handle on the Silver Teapot were transported from Japan separately and assembled on the spot.

Ando-san also practices the art of flower arranging and prepared all the arrangements for the exhibition during the morning of opening night. The large sculptural hanging vases that hung throughout the store were nice examples of Ando-san’s background as a sculptor.
Our collaboration series with Ando-san also highlighted his more sculptural tendencies. Inspired by his series of 3-D cube outlines entitled “Air of Box” we worked with Ando-san to create the counterpart, ‘Box of Air’. We have always reveled in the way Japanese architecture blends indoors and outdoors and decided to explore this idea. Since ‘Air of Box’ is meant to depict the sacred space within a Japanese home, our collaboration piece is the opposite – a hollow ceramic box that represents the outside world.

Ando-san is known for several different types of glazes, mostly for his matte whites and metallic silvers. His common metals are resonates of silver platinum and pewter but sometimes include gold. The finished wares are food safe and can be used with hot or cold liquids and food. They can be washed like everyday pottery and much like silver jewelry retain their luster the more they are used.

As someone who is just getting into the comprehensive world of tea, thinking back on our Masanobu Ando exhibition the best part had to have been the abundance of teaware. Everything from teacups and teapots were available and even pieces for what we’d consider more advanced tea drinkers like water disposal containers, teapot warmers, tea funnels, and drainers.

Chawan, vessels used for preparing and drinking tea, are often considered a potter’s masterpiece hence they are some of the hardest works to create. The goal is to make the perfect vessel for enjoying a cup of matcha tea – many elements are considered like good balance, weight, angle of the lip and the shape of the foot. They need to be in good harmony but more importantly feel intuitive to the maker and user. In this way chawan’s are very poetic in nature and to create them is challenging. It was interesting to see which chawan people gravitated towards of the three that were in the exhibition – silver, black or gold.

One of our favourite things at the exhibition was the traveling tea set Ando-san had assembled. The sets include tools and equipment needed to prep and serve three people. The pieces all fit within a small leather case like a puzzle and include custom made textiles for protecting and carrying.

When opening night rolled around, the traveling tea set was what Ando-san used during his tea ceremony demonstration. The audience watched as three participants (Justin, Amy and Peter), drank a few rounds of tea with Ando-san. His ceremony combines Chinese and Japanese traditions with some of his own rituals for a truly unique experience. What we appreciate the most is the casualness. Whether it is alone at home, on a business trip or at the park, one can enjoy the small rituals of tea in an uncomplicated way.

Ayako Kurokawa of Burrow prepared Roasted Green Tea and Short Bread Strawberry Caramel cookies for the tea pairing. For the rest of the night we had our favourite local mochis flowing by Fujiko of Mochi Rin. She took the exhibition concept and ran with it creating marbleized sweet and savoury mochi!

We kept the dining table setup from the tea ceremony for the duration of the show. The new rich brown, oak dining table and dining chairs by Ibazen combined beautifully with Ando-san’s works that have a weathered rustic feel. The playlist Paul Lawrence Lewis created for the exhibition also played throughout the week. We turned it into a CD that Ando-san could add to his large collection at Momogusa. Listen to the playlist here.

Our obligatory Extra Place alley team photo is missing a bunch of people this time but you know who you are! Thank you to everyone who helped out during the exhibition! It takes a lot of hands and help every time we put up a show and are so grateful for everyone who rolls through. In particular thank you to Ando-san and his assistants, Aya Nihei, Owen Smith-Clark, Paul Lawrence Lewis, the team at Studio Newwork, Armando Rafael Moutela, Nau Kim, Ingmar Chen, Joshua Skirtich, Ayako and Wataru and their team at Burrow and Fujiko of Mochi Rin.

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