The morning after the evening reception we hosted for Mr. Ryuji Mitani, we arranged for a special spoon carving workshop at our home above the shop/gallery.
Mr. Mitani has hosted these workshops in Japan and he came up with the idea in order to further connect people with hand crafted things, and give them an appreciation of the work that goes into making something as simple as a wood spoon. He does the workshop also to show how enjoyable it is to use craft products in one’s life, so that is why he also invited famous chef Ai Hosokawa to come along to cook lunch for all of the participants of the workshop. The idea was to carve a spoon, then use it during dessert.
Carving tools for the workshop.
Chef Ai Hosokawa went to the Duffering Grove farmer’s market to pick up some fresh and in season produce.
Chef Ai Hosokawa (left) and actress Hijiri Kojima (right).
Wooden cups and plates waiting under tea towels before being used for lunch.
We were lucky enough to have a beautiful day, so we decided to have the workshop outside.
Mr. Mitani showing how it’s done.
Cross-handed carving technique.
Using every possible container in our kitchen to serve 14 people. Here is a Dansk loaf pan with strawberries.
Oven roasted peppers.
You can breathe easy, our home is littered with toys, despite our best efforts.
Serving dishes brought in just for the workshop.
Ai’s daughter making her own lunch with play food.
First dish: fresh Ontario strawberries with roasted red peppers.
Next a Rhubarb soup.
Pork ribs with peas, asparagus, cilantro, dill and parley.
This is making me hungry.
We had to move the table inside as the sun became too intense!
Just before dessert, Mr. Mitani instructs the students on how to oil finish their spoons.
While the spoons are drying, Ai gets her refreshing panna cotta ready.
The finished dessert with a freshly carved spoon to enjoy it with! Best panna cotta ever.
The whole group holding up their new spoons!
Here are some photographs from the opening of Totemica at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, an exploration of the process of developing both Sucbaruca and Aureola from initial concept, to production to finished prototype.
The new Aureola set in a black iron stain finish, walnut handles and tray.
Red iron stained Aureola tea pot with cherry wood handle.
The pure white porcelain Aureola set with maple handle and tray.
Originally the “Pop” or “Memphis” version of Sucabaruca had a carrara marble tray with ebony wood legs. Finally we had a chance to produce a few and make them available to see at the exhibition.
Adriana Frisenna, the director of the Cultural center next to John, Luca and Alissa.
Raw colour pigments used in the colour staining of Sucabaruca.
Sucabaruca fresh out of the mold.
Luca Nichetto and Adrian going over the details of the slender wood handles of Aureola.
The whole production team.
From left: John, Adrian, Luca, Scott and Alissa
We are very pleased to announce the newest product design from Mjolk by incredible designers Luca Nichetto and Lera Moiseeva. Continuing their exploration of rituals through a tea set called Aureola.
We got to work with the same incredible team of artisans realizing Luca and Lera’s concept, utilizing the skills of ceramicist Alissa Coe, artist Scott Eunson and wood artisan Adrian Kuzyk. From the initial concept of the design two very traditional aspects were added to the set: the use of black and red iron oxide powders to colour the white porcelain, and the absence of glaze on the set. Iron oxides have been used as pigment since prehistoric times and the depth of colour that they produce gives the tea set a rich, timeless element. The idea to leave the set bare was inspired by traditional Chinese tea pots, where the more rough interior allows a fine patina to build up over time enhancing this way the flavor of the tea.
Here is the inspiration from Luca Nichetto and Lera Moiseeva:
“The idea of designing a tea set comes from a personal research, started long ago from the Venetian designer Luca Nichetto and developed together with the Russian designer Lera Moiseeva, on the ancient and modern sharing rituals that, even nowadays, play an important role in the social relationships in several countries. The tea ceremony, more than others, represents an important tradition in many areas of the world, and particularly in Asia, where it became almost sacred, influencing this way numerous cultures. By observing how tea is consumed in Russia, Luca Nichetto has noticed that the infuse is served not in cups but in small bowls without the handle and realized how this small detail gives more solemnity to the whole ritual.
The Aureola tea set is composed of a main body, a filter, and two cups, made in fine porcelain colored in mass and the pigments, obtained from metal powders, are commonly used to create the finest Asian lacquers. As the heat propagates from the center of the bowl towards the outside, so the energy aura of the people involved in the sharing rite seems to expand in wider circles towards the others. From this image takes its name the tea set Aureola, which has on its surface the signs that graphically represent this concept.”
Aureola as well as Sucabaruca are currently on exhibit at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura from June 26th through September 16th.
Istituto Italiano di Cultura
496 Huron St.
416-921-3802 ext. 221
Ryuji Mitani: a solo exhibition of wood craft
Ever since we opened Mjolk we have been working towards carrying some wood work by Japan’s most famous wood artisan Ryuji Mitani. If you Google him, it’s likely you’ll find some information about him through our blog since we have been huge fans for so long. We thought there was no hope left when a few years ago Ryuji Mitani decided to stop selling his work through galleries in Japan and focus his efforts on his own 10cm Gallery, painting, writing, the Matsumoto Craft fair, and maybe a solo retrospective here and there.
We were lucky enough to interview Mr. Mitani last summer for Mjolk Volume III (Which is available here, or coming to a book store near you very soon!). During the visit we invited him to do a solo exhibition here at Mjolk and we are very fortunate for his acceptance.
We are now happy to report that we are holding the opening of this exhibition on Thursday July 3rd from 7pm – 9pm, and the public exhibition will run from July 4th – August 10th.
All of the work will be for sale, and Mr. Mitani will be coming to Toronto and be available to meet in person during our opening reception.
Some items that will be for sale during the exhibition:
Wood plates, butter cases, wood cups and cutlery and even handmade sleeves for Chemex coffee pots!
A baby gift set.
Deep hand gouged trays.
Japanese lacquer-ware work including these plum blossom dishes.
Ryuji Mitani set up Persona Studio in 1981 in an effort to create hand-made wooden tableware for everyday life. His leadership in this field inspired a generation of woodworkers and set into motion a new post-mingei art movement called Seikatsu Kogei. In 1985 he set up the Matsumoto Craft fair in an effort to show the handcraft of his fellow artisans, and it quickly became the countries largest craft fair and gave a setting for different artisans to come together and display and sell their work. In 2011 Ryuji Mitani opened 10cm Gallery and cafe in an effort to create more dialogue between consumers and artisans, this gallery uses and exhibits Mitani’s work as well as other notable artisans.
Ryuji Mitani is now considered to be the most famous contemporary wood table- ware maker in Japan, he has written close to a dozen books about craft and has exhibited in countless galleries and museums all over Japan and abroad.
We want to bring back Rattan here in Canada by way of Danish furniture maker Sika-Design.
!Above) The Fox chair Designed in 1936 by Viggo Boesen prominently placed in Gunnar Asplund’s Summer Villa.
Inspired by a design competition held by the Danish wicker-maker guild in 1936, Viggo Boesen embarked on rattan furniture design combining modernist style with the hard wear qualities of the rattan material.
Viggo Boesen’s FOX lounge chair won the design competition in 1936. His inspiring, imaginative designs made him unique and put him among the designers of the “Danish golden age”. The chair was put in Gunnar Asplund’s summer home that same year.
The Hanging egg chair by Nanna Ditzel
The Hanging Egg Chair is a critically acclaimed design that has enjoyed praise worldwide ever since the distinctive sculptural shape was created by Nanna & Jørgen Ditzel in 1959.
Wicker maker Robert Wengler was now known as the best wicker maker in Denmark and many architects came to his workshop to get know-how and understanding about weaving and wicker work. Among those were Danish architects Arne Jacobsen, Viggo Boesen, Nanna & Jørgen Ditzel and Kay Bojesen. They had many of their prototypes made in R. Wenglers workshop in Copenhagen.
Today R. Wengler stands as one of the pioneers in Rattan production. What he did to the craftsmanship and the way he challenged the material, makes ground for the way we know rattan furniture today.
Rana chair by Nanna Ditzel
Rana is one of the first chairs based on the idea of ??integrating a shell on a frame in one piece. The 3-legged rattan chair initiated the rediscovery of rattan’s many properties.
Madame chair by Nanna Ditzel
Rocking chair by Nanna Ditzel
Nanna Ditzel studied under the leading Danish furniture designer Kaare Klint at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art’s furniture school. The rocking chair Nanny was one of the first chairs based on the idea of no legs.
Did you know Arne Jacobsen launched his furniture career with a piece of Rattan furniture in 1925? The chair was simply called the “Paris Chair.”
Ottomans by Franco Albini, designed in 1951.
Beautiful and practical.
Image from the Selby
Here are some photographs from our solo exhibition of Japanese potter Masanobu Ando’s work called “The way of tea”.
All of the photographs were taken by Toyomi Nakamura of Toki no Kumo, who came along with Mr. Ando.
One of Mr. Ando’s travelling Tea boxes called a “Chabako” This one is an old Japanese lunch box from the Showa period.
We thought serving some deliciously made maple candies from Toronto based Ninutik would be the perfect sweet to serve with Green tea, and it also brought a little bit of locality to the festivities.
A special medicine spoon made from whale bone re-purposed as a tea scoop. The art of repurposing in the Tea Ceremony is called mitate, and Mr. Ando is very well known for doing this.
It was a busy event. Thank you to everyone who attended the exhibition!
Tea Ceremony tools commissioned by Masanobu Ando.
A new bowl shaped ceramic colander with a hole for hanging when not in use.
A very lovely arrangement from out newest employee Reiko.
Finally a full collection of mugs available to purchase!
The main event of the night was the Tea Ceremony performance held in our front window using all works made or found by Masanobu Ando.
A very special Tea canister made by a monk from a famous Buddhist sect over 300 years ago. This particular Buddhist sect made everything including their own plates, clothing, furniture. Essentially anything needed, they relied only on themselves, a commitment very similar to the American Shaker movement. This style of tea canister has been replicated by a famous lacquer-ware artist around 100 years ago, but the one Mr. Ando brought with him is an original.
He went on to say this canister is the inspiration for his silver glazed objects. What an honour!
Adding hot water to the bowl.
The bowl is incredibly raw and powerful.
Gaining an audience out front.
Little Anzu got to sit with his mother Amy to share the moment.
Taking his sip.
A fantastic evening, thank you again for everyone who came out for the exhibition!
I had a chance to add a lot of items from the exhibition to our website this morning, although most of them we only have 1 item each so if you have your eye on something please let me know as it will only be available for a short time.