The reach and authority of Koransha, Japan’s oldest maker of tableware and purveyor to the imperial household, are nowhere better expressed than in what all these pieces have in common, including this unusual tabletop kaleidoscope. It’s the pattern they wear, the pattern that first brought this studio global recognition and a Gold Medal at the Philadelphia International Exposition of 1876. Kumo-chirashi – scattered clouds: Airy, casual, abstract, yet unmistakably devotional in its depiction of the natural world. And why a kaleidoscope? Perhaps to remind us that the beauty that exists in that real world is always the subject, however we choose to explore it.
The architect Louis Kahn said, “It is important … that you honor the material that you use.” Even the humble brick, he wrote, has the will to be something. In a wall it will serve, in an arch it will soar.
From its founding by the legendary Eizaemon Fukagawa in 1689, Koransha has responded to this imperative with exquisite wares in porcelain that garnered gold at every international exposition: Philadelphia in 1876, Paris in 1878, Barcelona in 1888, and on and on, weathering every momentous phase of Japanese commerce.
When the approach of the 20th century demanded that industry meet the needs of a technologically maturing nation, Koransha once again “listened to the material” and gave Japan… porcelain electrical insulators – efficient, reliable, powerful. Honoring qualities of porcelain that set it apart from the simply beautiful; and the company was honored for them. This, to endure and continue to quest, to ask porcelain what it wants to be, and to show us, in both practical and magical ways.