THE EYE - - 9:46 AM
Japanese Ceramics and Glassware at La Mercerie
La Mercerie is a French café, but many of the handmade ceramics and glassware we've chosen come from Japan.
The institutional history of what we often think of as the quintessential European café is similarly global, and deeply aligned with currents of trade. The first coffee house in Paris was established in the mid-17th Century, and served caffe from the Ottoman Empire. Not coincidentally, the Dutch East India Company and other ventures began to import pottery from Asia at around the same time.
The developing Present of contemporary pottery is similarly cross-commingled: still deeply rooted in rich tradition, but internationally-aware. For many reasons, Japan in particular remains a mecca for the earthly craft.
At La Mercerie, we've chosen more textually rougher wares than the Europeans first prized. Produced in the influence of great vernacular aesthetic traditions like wabi-sabi, but not frozen in time. Our contemporary selections are made by contemporary potters, and are (in)formed with a great gift of our time: cross-cultural curiosity.
Deceptively un-simple, white bud vases, small plates and mini cups are by the artisan Hitoshi Kato, who works in Toki City. A second generation ceramicist who took over his fathers business, Kato strives to create work that expresses a “handmade warmth,” rich with a “taste of the earth.” Previously, his work sought after simple lines, but more recently Kato has begun to explore ridged forms, playing around the boundaries of Western tableware.
These works act in play with the glassware of Yoshihiro Nishiyama, known for his "swaying vessels" named after the charming effect they produce as the light moves through their rippled forms. About these playful works, he says, "Although glass is often considered to be a cold medium, in reality it also has warmth and softness which I want to express." Pictured below, right, is his Decanta Flower Vase, which we are pleased to offer for sale online.
We're proud to have developed relationships with these artisans, and to have brought their wares to New York. If you would like to experience these objects in person, we encourage you to come visit the Guild, at 53 Howard Street in SoHo, New York.