How we find products
At London Design Fair many people asked us how we found products and we thought we would do a short post giving an example. One of our new products is a Takatori glaze teacup. Originally we saw a Takatori glaze vase at the Oumei Kamamoto workshop and thought it would look good on mugs, cups and saucers. We didn't know what to expect but we worked with the Oumei family to see what we could come up with.
The initial Oumei sample (No 1.) had a lovely orange and red Takatori glaze but the shape was too heavy and lacking in texture. So we had another sample done (No. 2.) where the glaze unexpectedly turned blue. It still looked great but the shape again needed some work so we pressed on with another round of sampling. No 3. had a nicer shape and a finer rim and felt really light and nice in the hand, but now the glaze was a rich green with blue highlights! On closer inspection, the remaining samples were all an unattractive muddy brown/green and the glaze was very unstable - a failure rate of 90%. Oumei san admitted defeat and said that the glaze had been mixed years earlier and he was unsure how to renew it.
Oumei san then introduced us to the Takatori family who had a go (No 4.) - this time the glaze worked predictably enough but the saucer was so fine that the edges drooped down. However, they had confidence that this could be addressed. The final iteration No 5. will be added to the website shortly. All the elements work well: the shape has a slight lip with a delicate rim, the weight is light and refined in the hand, the textured glaze on the body varies from a red to a brown depending on kiln position, with a beautiful splash of Takatori glaze.
However it took 18 months, two trips to the workshops and lots of efforts from both the Oumei kiln and the Takatori kiln just for a saucer! If the blue or green had worked we would have settled for that too, but we were guided by whether the glaze worked and the potters' natural styles. It is not unusual for us to have one or two rounds of sampling, but 5 rounds in order to get to a sellable product is thankfully rare.