London Craft Week
Shitsurindo has been making Echizen lacquerware for eight generations. Traditionally used to decorate and protect objects and utensils, Urushi can be applied using a number of different techniques. A contemporary take on the craft including a bicycle frame and new designs from Rin & Co was showcased at tokyobike for LCW.
Urushi is the natural resin collected from the lacquer tree, a plant native only to Asia. Refined into a coating and adhesive material, urushi has been used in Japan since the ancient Jomon period, 10,000 years ago.
Much like the process of an oyster creating a pearl, when the lacquer tree is cut or damaged, it secretes resin to heal and protect itself. The lacquer trees must be carefully raised and nurtured for 10 to 15 years to mature, and even then only about 200 grams of resin can be collected. It is thus a natural resource of great scarcity and value. From these trees the lacquer tapper slowly collects the resin over a period of about 5 months.
The coating film of Urushi exudes a warm sense of intimacy when in contact with the skin that can almost be likened to the touch of an infant’s skin. With antibacterial and disinfectant properties, it is also provides an exceptional sense of security. urushi is a totally natural lacquer, and with use develops a distinct, deeply refined luster and texture which cannot be reproduced with chemically developed coating materials. This naturally fosters strong feelings of attachment and deference. Furthermore, damage and wear can be repaired by reapplying the urushi coating. In this way lacquerware can be passed down for generations. Learning to use things with care, developing feelings of gratitude and appreciation to previous generations for what they have bequeathed us. Although urushi is most generally associated with very expensive, high-class articles, its enduring and repairable qualities make it extremely suitable for everyday goods. (Source: https://www.rethink-urushi.com/urushi)
The rich colour and unique texture of Urushi is shown here on a custom tokyobike produced for the Kengo Kuma designed Ace Hotel in Kyoto.
Rin & Co
The urushi craftsmen also produce contemporary tableware under the brand Rin & Co. The company is based in Kawada, Sabae City (known as the city of lacquer), Fukui Prefecture. Its surrounded by mountains on three sides creating a damp, cold, harsh environment for people but an ideal climate for hardening lacquer.
Their concept is to create tools and utensils that enrich our daily lives based on the belief that you should choose only what you need and use it for a long time. Products shown here demonstrate two techniques and are known as “Echizen hard lacquer” that can withstand dishwasher use and are produced in contemporary shapes and colours for use as daily tableware.
“Brush eye technique” makes the best use of the brush eyes by hand painting and demands exceptional technique because it cannot be repainted after initial painting.
“True coating technique” finishes the coating film with a single application and requires a high degree of skill to filter the lacquer multiple times in order to carefully remove the dust and apply it without leaving any brush marks.
A small selection of contemporary lacquerware from Rin & Co remains on display at tokyobike but we are happy to take pre orders for anyone interested in purchasing designs from the range – contact firstname.lastname@example.org