Col. Collection: deconstructing traditional lacquerware

By Aya | Living
Posted Mar 3, 2013

Urushi, wooden containers lacquered with the natural sap of sumac tree, are a widely known Japanese traditional craftwork. Integrated into Japanese daily life, Urushi are  both ecological and sustainable because of the possibility to use across generations by repainting the containers with urushi again and again for simple repairs.

UNOMATUDO (in Japanese), is a traditional, family-run business that has been producing traditional urushi ware since 1930 in Yamanaka Onsen, in Gifu prefecture. Inherited from his family, Manabu Hata continues the tradition but with a goal to adapt these homewares to modern life and create non-laquered plates and canisters to show off the grain of the wood.

Hata then collaborated with MUTE (in Japanese), a pair of Japanese designers: Kenji Ito and Takahiro Umino, who found the beauty in unlacquered wooden bases, made by the craftsman’s skillful hands, and decided to make those appear on surface of products. Then, they painted some part of wooden bases in red, yellow, green, white and so on with urethane paintings instead of urushi. The new collaborative collection is called ‘col.’ which refers to the addition of contemporary colours. These bright, modern colours have resonated with younger Japanese, who find they match them easily into their present-day lives.

UNOMATSUDO and MUTE have been producing ‘col.’ since 2011. Their aim is not only to bring more hand works for craftsmen and support them but to take over the traditional techniques in the long term. Would you like to share in this sustainable journey? You can purchase some of the ‘col’ series online.  The collection consists of  Tutu (canister), Hako (container), Wan (bowl), and Sara (plate). Buy from Monosquare.com who ship from NY or Luke.com who ship from Australia.

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