We were very pleased to see many visitors at our showroom 'SferaSenses' during the Milan design week. In this year, Sfera had an exhibition 'An Appetite for Design' by collaboration with 2 Kyoto-based craft artists, Shin Murata and Naomi Toda. The exhibition's report has just arrived from Milan.
'An Appetite for Design'
Our thriving fascination with food forms the core of this year’s exhibition during Milan design week. Sfera links food to the senses, and creates edible experiences that bring delicious food and exquisite craftsmanship together. Food is in itself an object of design, relying on innovative culinary techniques, fresh ingredients and tactile materials to satisfy the appetite and nourish the soul. ‘Good taste’ is literally experienced on the palate, yet can also describe the beauty and harmony created by designs that are pleasing to the eye. Every meal is a message, where the combination of food, furniture and tableware signal the occasion and set the scene for the enjoyment to come.
Sfera sank its teeth into food culture when we opened the café and restaurant in our Kyoto headquarters. Over the years, we’ve seen a gradual, but genuine, evolution in today’s dining experiences, with restaurants moving away from formal styles of service towards more a democratic style of dining. We’ve seen a wider interest in locally-grown ingredients, while at the same time, greater awareness of ethnic cuisines and a desire to experiment with exotic flavours. This shift is also reflected in tableware trends, with local materials and traditional crafts becoming more popular. The types of wood and clay used to make Kyoto’s traditional tableware have a unique authenticity. They are a popular choice in Japan, and the demand for them abroad is growing.
Kyoto’s tradition of atusrae '誂え' tableware takes dining to a higher level. Local craftsmen make bespoke tableware, utensils and furniture for restaurants, giving each distinctive styles and textures that appeal to the hand as well as to the eye. Sfera invites you to make every culinary experience unique. Together, food and design can create delicious moments that will be savoured for a lifetime.
Shigeo Mashiro | Creative direction
Designer, creative director and restaurateur, Shigeo Mashiro uses food to broaden the boundaries of design. Born in Kyoto in 1970, Mashiro pioneers the fusion of contemporary design and traditional craft, often combining them with culinary experiences. Mashiro opened the Ricordi Italian restaurant in Kyoto in 1995, where he brought food, tableware and interior design together to engage all the senses. Mashiro designed original tableware for the restaurant, which earned it a reputation for gastronomy served with style.
Mashiro’s dislike of materials and cooking ingredients oriented towards mass consumption led him to become an important innovator in food design. Mashiro uses food to spark discussions around design that engage the industry and the consumer in new ways. An Appetite for Design is one such discussion, which includes the collaboration with Murata to explore new ways of presenting food. With Toda’s help, Mashiro produced the dining set for children to enjoy with their tactile senses, making their meal times more meaningful. Both parts of the exhibition show how simple materials such as natural wood and fired clay can reveal the essence of design. As they do so, Mashiro encourages the use of simple, natural food ingredients to create culinary experiences that satisfy the senses as well as the appetite.
Shin Murata | Pottery
Shin Murata is one of Japan’s leading ceramicists. Born in Kyoto in 1970, Murata graduated from Kyoto Seika University and completed an apprenticeship with master ceramicist Yoshitaka Araki, then established his own studio in 1998. Five years later, Murata built a wood-powered Anagama kiln, creating scope to fire his pieces using traditional techniques. The kiln enables wood ash to settle on the pieces during the firing, and the complex interaction between the heat, ash and minerals in the clay creates a natural ash glaze.
Murata revisits traditional ceramic tableware and challenges himself to recreate them in contemporary styles that surpass their original forms. Although Murata’s designs may not necessarily be made with functionality in mind, they are in demand by chefs and restaurateurs striving to create a fine dining experience. Murato’s influence is making handcrafted ceramics a popular choice for sophisticated restaurants, where expressive pieces add an element of luxury.
Murata teamed up with Shigeo Mashiro, Sfera’s creative director, to create new tableware for eating, serving and just enjoying. Mashiro designed contouring shapes that Murata glazed with a soft lustre. Murata created patterns of spirals and stripes, and added signature motifs that make each object unique. Whether used for everyday dining or enjoyed on special occasions, these ceramics fill the gap between practical tableware and everyday art.
Naomi Toda | Wood working
Born in 1976, Toda is a Japanese woodworker and furniture maker. One of the leading craft innovators in the Kyoto area, her work continues the woodworking tradition that has flourished in the region for nearly a millennium. After graduating from Kyoto City University Graduate School of Arts in 2001, Toda established her own studio, which she named Potitek. Commissions to craft wooden furniture for bars and restaurants added a sense of authenticity and understated luxury to some of Kyoto’s leading establishments. Toda’s work brings contemporary expression to traditional wooden forms.
Over the years, Toda's work has been widely influential, and helped shape the studio furniture movement flourishing in Kyoto today. Toda has an interest in food and wine, designing and crafting wooden utensils for meal preparation and serving. As she continues to craft furniture and utensils, Toda updates the materials of the past with a fresh vision for the future.
Toda’s collaboration with Sfera has resulted in a set of tables and chairs made for children. Designed by Shigeo Mashiro and crafted exclusively for Sfera by Toda, the furniture creates scope for child-friendly dining, tea parties and playtime with arts and crafts. The chairs and stools are made with cushions that provide accents of colour, while their simple, rounded legs and backrests are organic and smooth. The table is made with a raised edge that keeps objects from rolling off – a design feature that is both practical and beautiful.