THE EDIDA AWARD
There are times when an award can make a change, a real change. It can help launch a career, act as a consecration, or as was the case with one of the 2013 EDIDA prizes, participate in the revival of a whole industry.
The EDIDA, or ELLE DECO International Design Awards, were launched in 2002. They have since been presented annually at a prestigious ceremony held each April during the Milan Furniture Fair. Rewarding creative excellence in 13 categories, they are attributed by a jury consisting of the editors-in-chief of the 25 editions of ELLE DECORATION, the world’s leading homes magazine. Past honorees have included many of the most famous names in contemporary design, such as Patricia Urquiola, Nendo, Jayme Hayon and Jasper Morrison. In 2013, the Tableware award was presented to the Dutch duo, Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings, for their “Colour Porcelain” collections developed in close collaboration with traditional craftsmen in the small town of Arita in southern Japan.
THE HISTORY OF ARITA
It was here that the art of fine porcelain was introduced into Japan in 1616 after the discovery of a white clay called kaolin in the nearby Izumiyama mountain. It was first imported into Europe in 1650 by the Dutch East India Company. Its golden age lasted until the mid-18th century as millions of pieces of “aritaware” were transported across the seas. Its porcelain was particularly sought after for its wonderfully delicate grey-white tone, its vivid colours and often highly ornate decoration.
From its high point in the mid-1700s, the industry went into a steady decline, accentuated in the 1990s after the collapse of the Japanese economic bubble. Yet, a small community of local craftsmen and manufacturing companies resisted and remain, preserving skills and traditions that were threatened with extinction. In order to ensure their survival, an innovative initiative was required.
It saw the light of day in 2012 when the Japanese designer Teruhiro Yanagihara was appointed creative director of a new ceramics brand, 1616/Arita Japan [“1616 forward slash Arita Japan”]. One of his first moves was to invite Scholten and Baijings to develop a line in collaboration with local manufacturer, Momota Touen. The result was the Colour Porcelain collections. The duo took particular interest in the traditional colours of aritaware, such as aquarelle blue, light green and reddish orange., reapplying them in a strikingly modern fashion on a set of contemporary, highly functional tableware. The success and international acclaim was almost instantaneous, not the least of which was the EDIDA award.
And where they are now is at the heart of an exciting new chapter in Arita’s history. 2016 sees the celebration of the industry’s 400th anniversary and to mark this momentous milestone, a new collection was launched at the Milan furniture fair. Called “2016/” [“2016 Forward Slash”], it brings together new creations by 16 internationally recognised designers, such as Stefan Diez, Christian Haas and Studio Wieki. Each worked in association with one of ten different Arita potteries, one of which has actually been producing porcelain since 1775! The goal is clear: to make aritaware once more relevant, and desirable to a new generation. To create a new golden age by combining the finest Japanese craftsmanship with the very best of global design. And to make it last.