Craftwork: Muji’s ’Tatazumai’ collection comprises new artisanal wares
Muji might be known for its utilitarian approach to minimalist living, but a limited edition collection and exhibition of artisanal wares proves that there’s more to its appeal than just that. Building off a similar venture in Paris last year, the Japanese brand’s Fifth Avenue emporium is hosting ‘Tatazumai’ for the next three days – a collection of new work by six Japanese artisans, ranging from glass to ceramics to kitchenware, all of whom will be present for the show’s duration.
‘For this exhibit, we wanted to bring the artisans forward and have them speak directly about their work to our customers,’ explains Asako Shimazaki, president of Muji USA. ‘As a company that values anonymity, this exhibition marks a big step for us. While we typically prefer limited branding, we also recognise that many designers put their heart and soul into their craft, and wanted to give the artists the opportunity to speak directly about their work to our customers.’
While Muji is known as a master of the functional and quotidian, ‘the items in the collection are all one of a kind, hand-crafted works, so we wanted to make sure the... exhibition reflected how special the collection is’, Shimazaki explains.
The Japanese word and concept ’tatazumai’ means ‘appearance’, ‘shape’ or ‘atmosphere’. Thus, Muji chose artists whose work embodied this ethos. Included in the show are gorgeous minimalist ceramic jars by Kazumi Tsuji, textured hand-carved wood trays by Ryuji Mitani, paulownia pulp boxes from Michiko Iwata, hand-potted tea kettles by Keisuke Iwata, wabi-sabi plates by Masanobu Ando and raw-stitched clothing by Akiko Ando.
‘We also feel strongly that the products we live with everyday should be well made and well designed,’ says Shimazaki, ‘Though "Tatazumai" is more limited edition in nature, we feel the pieces included in the exhibition are functional and add to the user’s daily life.’