(THISIS)SHIZEN® ディスイズシゼン

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SHUNSUKE KATO

加藤 駿介

NOTA&design

The landscape in front of us and the future beyond

目の前の風景と、その先にある未来

京都からの道中、山々に囲まれた田畑の風景が続くなか段々と目に飛び込んでくるのは、家や店の前に並べられた壺やたぬきの置物など大きな焼き物の数々。信楽の町に着いたと気づきます。日本六古窯のひとつである信楽焼の産地であるこのあたりを「50年前から変わらない景色」と語るのは「NOTA&design」の加藤駿介さん。(THISIS)SHIZENの店頭に並ぶ植物用の鉢や花器などは、彼の監修をもとに信楽の土から作られています。信楽の伝統、そして今あるべき自然が新たな視点で捉えます。

When you are on your way from Kyoto, passing through the endless landscape of fields and surrounding mountains, what appears in your sight is a bunch of large stoneware pottery such as pots and raccoon figures lining up in front of the houses and shops. That is when you realise that you have arrived in Shigaraki - a town famous for Shigaraki ware, one of the Japan's Six Ancient Kilns. Shunsuke Kato, the founder and the designer of NOTA & design says that this place has not changed for over 50 years. The flower pots and vases in (THISIS)SHIZEN are made from the soil of Shigaraki under his direction. Under his direction the products are made from the soil of Shigaraki. With a fresh perspective, he captures the tradition of Shigaraki as well as the nature’s way of being that is needed right now.

衝撃を受けた50年前の風景を
今でも眺められる自然なとき

A moment in nature
I am still gazing at the landscape which touched me 50 years ago

Whenever I am gazing at the scenery from this store (NOTA_SHOP) is a moment of nature to me. It makes me relieved. Did you know that this scenery hasn’t changed for a long time? A while ago, I had an opportunity to help setting up the exhibition of a research book called “Shigaraki Pottery’s Valley” by Louis Allison Cort. I was surprised when saw her photographs form the 50-60s because the terrain and the landscape were exactly the same and you could recognise the locations where they were taken. Of course, Shigaraki is a very small town, but even in the bubble economy it remained unchanged. This is incredible, is the reason why I chose this place as my base. There are mountains, fields, rivers… and resources rich enough to sustain industries. I treasure this unchanging landscape.

— The town of Shigaraki did’t change in terms of landscape, but did it change as Shigaraki ware producing area?

産地としての変化と
必要とされる意識

The change in the producing area - what we need to realise

The production of Shigaraki ware peaked in 1993, and by 2014, the number had gone down by 77%, producing just 1/3 and decreasing the ceramic industry workers by 64%. Initially, people started creating ceramics because they wanted to make high quality products, and when the distributors could no longer sell they laid out a strategy for what to do afterwards. However, starting from the 80s, the bubble economy made more producers seek efficiency and mass-produce pottery, because whatever you made was able to sell. When this happens, the passion for making high quality products gets forgotten even if the producers keep a good technology, and the distributors who couldn’t catch up with the needs from people or a changing way of distribution. The producers that have survived nevertheless are either the ones who have a strong policy or the ones who outsources their production to a factory. And the biggest problem right now is regarding the ones digging the soil. Because they don’t dig unless they have orders, some have to close down their businesses, and supply of soil has become decreased. Even if there are resources, there’s no one there to dig them. Fewer people choose to work in mining industry because you can’t live on it. I see that as a problem.

— How do you see the future of NOTA&design located in Shigaraki?

大きいものを作っていく
信楽に根ざし発信すること

Making things large
Rooted in Shigaraki, spreading to the world

Twenty years from now, we might not be able to make pottery because there will be no more clay or glaze available... What I want to do as NOTA&design is to make large products by making use of the characteristics of the region. Even if tableware are easier to sell, this is our stance.
In Shigaraki you can produce large products. The reason for that is the material, soil. There is a lake, kind of like an ancestor to Lake Biwa, which has been moving two millimetres northward since 12,000 years ago and which is still moving today. And the nutrients from that lake have been deposited in the clay layers of Lake Biwa, and that makes Shigaraki’s clay, unique in its elastic texture. This soil was good for making large pottery. Shigaraki is also known for its hibachi (traditional Japanese heating device), bathtubs, and garden supplies, but this is only possible because of its large kilns. And perhaps this is a characteristic of a region that produces something other than tableware that there's a huge amount of samples at the raw material manufacturers. Glazes, for example. With tableware, the variation of glaze is limited mostly to the colors that make food look delicious on a plate. But because the products in Shigaraki are often used around the exterior and go well with architecture you can use a wide range of colors, and the know-how of that has been accumulated over time. To be honest, I'm not really interested in whether Shigaraki ware itself is good or bad. Since we enjoy the benefits from Shigaraki in this way, I'd like to make something as large as possible and spread to the world.

Photography by Kohei Yamamoto

— What is a “store” defined by NOTA&design? And what will happen in (THISIS)SHIZEN?

感覚を積み重ねて形づくる
機能の先にあるもの

Accumulate bodily sensations
to shape something beyond the function

In pottery, there is a lot of emphasis on the things other than its function. I think it's just a matter of accumulating your own bodily sensations. I love design, art and music, and I even took a gap year from the university to go to London to study graphic design. Shiga is an area producing pottery, but I don’t think that you have to specialise in that necessarily. I would like to foster a world for young people that goes beyond function. The digitised society of today gives us fewer opportunities to experience things in real life, but I think just one interesting shop could change a town. Inspired by that shop, some others might open restaurants and bars as well as design offices. I hope that NOTA_SHOP will become such a place too.
And I feel the same about (THISIS)SHIZEN. Creating something that has never been done before, focusing on things other than function. I'm not really interested in what everyone already understands. I think it's more important and interesting to challenge something you can’t imagine. I'm not a type of person who makes things from a scratch, but I'm good at finding solutions to a given challenge, arranging things in a certain state or suggesting things you would think exist in the world. My tableware only becomes a vase or a pot when you put flowers and plants. It's interesting to think about those things in my own way with (THIS)SHIZEN, and maybe this kind of design thinking is the most natural thing for me.

PROFILE

Shunsuke Kato
NOTA&design
Born in 1984 in Shigaraki, Shiga prefecture. During his study at Kyoto Seika University, he worked as an intern at IDEE experience. After returning from London where he studied design, he started making films and graphic design. He worked at an advertising agency in Tokyo before going back to his hometown Shigaraki for engaging in his family business “Yamatatsu Ceramics”, founded in 1881. He started to work as an in-house designer and craftsman. He launched new brands within the company while collaborating with external companies, before he established “NOTA&design” with his partner Kayoko that specialises in design, production and sales of lifestyle products where ceramics are in the core.
WEB SITE
www.nota-and.com

OUR STORY

  • TAICHI SAITO, DAISUKE MATSUE

    Groundscape Designer of ATELIER DAISHIZEN

    New value, new nature

  • KOHEI NAWA

    Sculptor / Director of Sandwich Inc.
    Professor at Kyoto University of the Arts

    Capturing the cyclic ecosystem beyond the stratosphere

  • MARIHIKO HARA

    Composer

    The function of music in harmony with nature

  • AMACHI YOSHIMOTO

    amachi.

    Questioning the relationship between the collective of all the existence.

  • HIDEHIKO MATSUMOTO

    Matsumoto Sake Brewing Co., Ltd.

    Nature and human - Living and changing

  • MASANAO HIGUCHI

    CHANOMIYAGURA Tea farmer

    Nature is the foundation of life

  • SATOSHI HARADA

    Nanzenji Harada

    Keep creating a variety of nature

  • SHUNSUKE KATO

    NOTA&design

    The landscape in front of us and the future beyond

  • SACHIE NODA

    Florist

    Sharpening the sensitivity with the nature