Shibui is a Japanese word which refers to a particular set of zen design principles, favoring subtle and unobtrusive beauty. Originating in the Muromachi period (1336–1392), the term originally referred to a sour or astringent taste, such as that of an unripe persimmon. Shibui objects often include tiny and surprising details--such as asymmetry or juxtaposing textures--which balance simplicity with complexity. They can be static yet dynamic, spontaneous yet restrained, or modest yet elegant.
We do not tire of a shibui object. Instead, we treasure it for generations to come, spotting new elements of interest each and every day. Sometimes, we may even have a sneaking suspicion that the object has a life of its own, so rich is the story of its creation.
Akiko Hirai's Tsbuo Pot has a thousand stories to tell. Available exclusively at our Hampstead store. £1350.
One of the main shibui concepts is Fukinsei, or Imperfection. We can see this most beautifully in the ancient Japanese art of Kintsukuroi, which translates as Golden Repair. This the practice of fixing broken pottery using a lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic, emphasizing fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Though the technique is largely visual, it actually diverts attention away from the sheer appearance of the object, and instead draws attention to the life it has lived.
Abigail Schama migrated from painting to pottery, and now hand-throws beautiful bowls speckled with subtle splashes of gold. These pieces, she says, are about imprinting the imperfect, the unexpected and the unrepeatable marks of a human hand on the most primal and unchanging material.
Abigail Schama's creations are paved with gold. Available online and instore. £320.
Maud & Mabel are thrilled to be hosting the work of Valeria Valigi - an exquisite Italian maker whose timeless textile pieces are handcrafted in the Umbria region, where she was born and raised beneath the cypress trees.
Available online and at our Hampstead store, each piece is a tribute to her heritage -- a homecoming celebration after years of international travel, and a thank you note addressed to the generations of weavers who went before her. Valigi's supply chain is transparent, feeding directly back into the community where she grew up, and each piece is cut from the finest recycled materials by experienced hands. "It is a bit like returning to the ways of our grandparents", she explains, "when each object became a cherished companion throughout many experiences of life and living."
There are stories stitched in the seams. Read on to find your favourite piece.
This easy-to-wear dress is beautifully simple in form. It is available in both fine wool (in shades of charcoal or navy), or in the mustard alternative pictured above, which is instead crafted from Italian linen.
*Valigi Navy fine wool dress, £370, available here.*
*Valigi Charcoal Fine Wool Dress, £370, available here.*
If you're looking for something soft and versatile, Valigi's Collarless cotton shirt can be worn with a gentle fold. It is exquisitely crafted, featuring sophisticated cuff detail and button fastenings.
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Maud and Mabel are pleased to be adding to our selection of ceramicist Nobue Ibaraki’s wonderful work with her new range of jugs and bottles in an ecru glaze.
The soft ecru glaze reacts gently with the minerals in the clay, sourced locally to Nobue Ibaraki in Tajimi, Japan, evoking a sense of burried treasure.
A wonderful blend of modern and traditional, the ecru glaze compliments the bold forms, simple shapes accentuated by subtle marks in the texture and finish.
Japan based, Kenta Anzai handcrafts a beautiful selection of objects ranging from vases, pourers and containers to plates, tea bowls and sake cups. Kentas work is thrown in porcelain and his glaze is infused with a small amount of urushi - a natural Japanese lacquer, giving each piece a uniquely detailed surface pattern to contrast with the simple forms.
The thoughtfully aged surface of Kenta’s work takes months to create with endless polishing and refining. The result is a perfect example of the Wabi Sabi aesthetic so sought after in Japanese pottery.
Kenta Anzai is a highly sought after ceramic artist. Kenta was apprentice to renowned potter Taizo Kuda. Kuda in turn was apprentice to Tatsuzo Shimaoka (national treasure) who also studied under Shoji Hamada. So a truly impressive lineage.
Each piece is polished up to 8 times using the finest grade sandpaper. Thus producing a soft caressible surface which shows subtle reflections of light similar to eggshell.