Subtle Beauty in the Finest Porcelain
The Birthplace of Japanese Porcelain
UTSUÀ ceramics are rooted in Arita, north-western Kyushu - a town set in a landscape of picturesque rice-paddy terraces and verdant countryside. For over four hundred years, this place has been synonymous with the finest Japanese porcelain. Indeed, it is said that it was in Arita in the 17th century that hard porcelain was first produced in Japan.
Subsequently, the fame of Arita's exquisitely decorated ceramics spread across the world, helped by the town's proximity to the great port of Nagasaki. This city was Japan's window on to the world and merchants came from Europe and Asia to seek out the renowned local porcelain.
The legacy of these centuries can be found not only in the continued production of refined ceramics in Arita, but also in the ever-popular Arita Ceramic Fair. This annual festival celebrates the work of local artisans and draws thousands of people from across Japan every April.
An Exciting New Path for Arita Ware
UTSUÀ is a new name in Arita's long and storied history. It was created as a collaboration between the long-established porcelain producer Marubun and the creative mind of Dutch designer Tijmen Smeulders as part of Arita's 400th anniversary project. Marubun itself has been selling ceramics in the birthplace of Japanese porcelain since the late 19th century and has unrivaled knowledge and skill in offering the most exquisite Arita Ware.
This collection takes its name from the everyday Japanese word for a vessel or container - utsuwa. The apparent simplicity of the name, however, contains a deeper meaning; it is a word that also symbolizes a person's capacity to hold such qualities as tolerance and generosity. The masterpieces in the UTSUÀ collection visibly represent these qualities, being open to new concepts of design and being crafted for all cuisines and lifestyles.
A Marriage of Subtlety and Intricacy
Smeulders strongly believes in the importance of dialogue and the collaborative process in creating masterpieces of design. In keeping with this ethos, UTSUÀ is a true synthesis of age-old Japanese materials techniques and cutting-edge design technology to produce something that has a timeless quality. All the pieces in the UTSUÀ collection are, therefore, crafted from the amakusa clay hewn from the landscape near Arita; it is a clay renowned throughout Japan to this day for its purity and the quality of the porcelain made from it.
Smeulders' designs are a remarkable harmony of simplicity and intricacy. Each piece conveys a subtle sophistication through a ridge-like patterning, called shinogi. These ridges create an interplay of light and shade on the surface of the ceramic, so the exquisite white porcelain acts as a canvas for different hues and shapes. In all his work, Smeulders aims to create a sense of individuality without resorting to complex or extravagant patterning; the UTSUÀ collection encapsulates this ideal perfectly.
Distinctive Design for Everyday Use
The UTSUÀ tableware collection combines stunning aesthetics with practicality. The simple, but distinctive, design complements any table or décor. Each piece has been created with versatility in mind; they can work as easily with Japanese traditional dishes as with Western. The cups, for example, work both as an espresso cup and for serving sake. And, being made from the highest quality porcelain, UTSUÀ tableware is both durable and robust and can withstand daily use with cutlery. These are ceramics crafted to bring beauty into the everyday.
All the items in the collection come in both a matte and gloss finish. Each finish brings a different dimension to the refined white porcelain. The matte finish, completed without a glaze, emphasizes the texture of the ceramic. It is fired at such a high temperature that, despite having no glaze, it will not stain. The gloss tableware is finished with a glaze on the inside of the piece only, which heightens the variations in light and shade made by the ridges and the porcelain.