I know there were quite a few inquiries about when we would be putting Mr. Mitani’s work online, and I am pleased to say everything is finally available on our webshop:
Here is a sampling of what is available.
(above plum blossom dish with black and white Japanese urushi lacquer)
A baby spoon, bowl, and plate gift set.
A specially made Chemex coffee sleeve in mountain cherry.
Black and white urushi coffee cups.
A set of nesting bowls.
Tea leaf box in mountain cherry.
A unique white lacquer bowl.
Mr Mitani’s beautiful signature.
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!
Last Thursday we had the pleasure to host the first North American exhibition of famous wood artist Ryuji Mitani. Thank you very much for everyone who came to visit the exhibition during the opening night, we were so happy to have the place packed, especially with summer holidays when many people flee the city to travel or head up north.
We even had a customer from New York come for a 1 day trip just to see our exhibition. What incredible feedback for one of our highest profile exhibitors yet!
Hand carved cups with black urushi lacquer-ware on the exterior, and white on the inside.
A stack of chestnut bread plates with clear urushi coating.
A unique white serving bowl with white urushi Japanese lacquer-ware.
A set of 4 turned cherry wood nesting bowls.
Hand carved lidded boxes made from chestnut.
Delicate hand carved bowls.
Chestnut Butter dishes witha cherry wood knife.
A HUGE hand carved chestnut platter.
Another incredible and larger piece, a hand-gouged walnut tray made from a single piece of wood.
A beautiful hand-turned chestnut salad bowl with lovely grain.
Special cross motif plates.
Dessert dishes inspired by plum blossoms.
Specially made cherry wood sleeves that fit the 3-cup Chemex coffee beakers.
Cross pot trivets.
Ryuji Mitani wood work sitting on our Tea Trolleys in the front window.
A hand carved cherry wood plate.
A Chemex coffee maker with the specially made cherry wood sleeve.
Ryuji Mitani talking to a guest.
Signing a copy of Mjolk Volume III which profiles Mr. Mitani.
Just getting a little busy in the early evening, by midway through the exhibition the store was packed and we had to put the camera away. The event lasted until 1:00am even through the official end of the night was 10:00pm.
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.