Our Beautiful Products 12- Pottery from Kyoto

Goun Maeda colourways

Japan is world-famous for producing fine pottery and porcelain which were made very popular in Europe by the East Indies Company a few centuries ago.  It is said Meissen was established to compete with imports of Arita Yaki, one of the three oldest schools in Japan.  Kiyomizu Yaki from Kyoto is another one dating back to the fifteenth century.  Kyoto, the former capital of Japan for more than thousand years, is a centre of Japanese culture and several of the schools (traditions) of Kiyomizu Yaki are taught there.  The development was accelerated as Sa-do, tea ceremony was getting popular amongst samurai warriors and monks.  (You can find more about it in my blog here.)   

I was visiting many workshops in Kyoto to develop an accessory range for Biden when I started the business, and fell in love with one particular Kiyomizu Yaki potter, Goun Maeda.  His works are modern, simple and clean.  It is said that the Japanese, culturally, like to add emotional value by removing elements and simplifying design. This is another example; all the effort and energy poured into the works are simply expressed by the glaze and by the sophisticated shapes.


White Crescent Bowl by Goun Maeda


I could see his works fit right in and complement a wide range contemporary interiors.   Kyoto is a funny place.  It is a closed circle where people are different from the rest of Japan and they think differently.  While they are passionate guardians of traditions, avant-garde designs are more likely to come from there more than Tokyo. 


Goun is the third master of one particular school of Kiyomizu Yaki.  They are all handmade pottery works with extraordinary and beautiful circular patterns produced by the crystallization of silica zinc.  A unique glaze and careful control of kiln temperature encourage the growth of the crystals.  The method is a family secret passed down through many generations.  The colours are amazing.  The electric blue is so clean and intense while the celadon is soothing.  Each colourway is rich with depth of varied shades, even white.     

His works were well recognised as they have been shortlisted for The Japan Fine Arts Exhibition, the highest art competition in Japan, several times in his career.  He has also been selected to enter The Society of The Japan Fine Arts Exhibition for his contribution to Japanese pottery art.









Kuniko Thompson

Kuniko Thompson

Founder of Biden Designs established in 2008. She is passionate about creating beautiful interiors working with designers, architects and Japanese craftsmen.

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