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.