Introducing ARITA in Milan, Italy: Expectations for the globally expanding 2016/ project
In April 2015, Milan was bustling with the Milano Salone, and the 2016/ project hosted a press preview and exhibition. We report the progress of the next generation development project of Arita porcelain, in which 16 groups of world-class designers from 8 countries, and 16 potteries and trading companies are cooperating.
Press preview & exhibition at Milano Salone
Milano Salone is an international design fair held in April every year in Milan, Italy; it hosts a wide variety of events and exhibitions across the city. Renowned for its thrilling design week, the fair attracts many creators, designers, and journalists from all over the world.
The 2016/ project will make its official announcement in Milan in 2016 - the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Arita porcelain - and this year, as a warm up, the project hosted a press preview and exhibition from April 14 to 19.
The venue selected for this event was the stunningly beautiful, atmospheric, and verdant Spazio Rossana Orlandi; this stately refurbished mansion has many intimate rooms, and every year during Milano Salone, it has proved a popular spot for designers and brands in the spotlight to showcase their wares.
International designers and world appeal
During the fair, the potteries and trading companies of the 2016/ project and those involved in the 400th anniversary celebrations all gathered in Milan. Over three hectic days April 14, 15 and 16, from 9:00 every morning they hosted a press preview breakfast meeting with journalists and design critics from around the globe.
Teruhiro Yanagihara, the creative director, and the Dutch design duo Scholten & Baijings explained to visitors the history of Arita porcelain, their approach to porcelain monozukuri, and the 2016/ project concepts, along with introducing the project's 16 designer groups, and announcing the outline of this exciting new project for the future of Arita porcelain.
The ARITA room in the mansion displayed kaolin, the original raw material of all Arita porcelain, and representative products of Arita's illustrious 400 year history, including the 1616/arita japan range, which three years ago opened new possibilities for Arita porcelain. In addition, earlier works of the 2016/ project designers, made for other manufacturers were also presented; this dazzling mix of porcelain gave a foretaste of the new collaborations now being fired in Arita.
With just one year to go before the 2016/ launch, the brand products are still under wraps, so the press review and exhibition focused on the background of ARITA. In the words of Noriyuki Momota, the president of Momota Touen Corporation, one of the participating trading companies: "Firstly, it is important to show the background, quality, and details of Arita porcelain. When it is appreciated and makes a good topic of conversation, this creates a shorter route to branding." He is a Milan old-hand having experience of releasing the 1616/arita japan brand with Mr. Yanagihara, and design duo Scholten & Baijings some three years ago. He was very pleased with the response this time: "In the venue there were already many companies and media who have an interest in Arita initiatives, and we received many inquiries about our sales launch date, which could lead to business talks."
The rapid spread of recognition overseas is due to the 2016/ project itself with the inclusion of so many world-class designers. Collaboration with international designers will certainly reinvigorate the long tradition of Arita's monozukuri, and each of them talking about their participation in the project will help rapidly spread this vibrant message across the world.
Receiving new inspiration, increasing unity
At present, the 2016/ project naturally shows different stages of progress among designers, but overall most of the design proposals are in place, and the project has entered the prototype production stage. For many of the potteries and trading companies, this project is the first time of working on an overseas venture, and surprisingly the common difficulty experienced has been the exchange of drawings with designers abroad. It is not enough to stick faithfully to the 2D drawing. As explained by Mr. Momota, "The real challenge is to grasp their design concept." They sometimes waver, worry, or fail, but eventually, "Mutual understanding through communication leads to better product development."
In the venue in Milan, development meetings were also held with the designers, many of whom had not seen their partner for some months; this was a great opportunity to exchange opinions and get hands-on with prototype products in the sort of open and frank atmosphere often found in events abroad. The potteries and trading companies were really enthusiastic: "This has really stretched our way of thinking," or "The teamwork with the designers and staff has been strengthened." All the participants were really inspired and caught up in the Milano Salone atmosphere, which can only benefit the ARITA monozukuri. The project members were surprised by the number of people from every corner of the world, who have expectations of ARITA; this has helped them to refocus their minds on the global goals. They are also keen to create a vibration next year where everyone involved will be delighted, and with the 2016/ project as the start, the team is aiming for a shift in the awareness in the local community back home and a total revival of the industry in Arita.
Preparations are well underway to have a well-established sales system in place and the 2016/ project will be officially announced during the Milan Design Week (Milano Salone) in April 2016, followed by an autumn 2016 announcement in Japan.