Interview: Pauline Deltour

2015.11.06 Interview by Kanae Hasegawa interviews, kouemon ltd, pauline deltour

For French designer Pauline Deltour this project is a first foray into ceramic design. We asked her about her impressions of Arita and the specific challenges the project has brought.


- What has been your impression of Arita?

Arita is surrounded by mountains, there is a hot spring, many rice fields and houses. This pastoral landscape gave me an impression of a place far away from industry. Initially, I was surprised that such a town has a strong porcelain industry. That there are factories, potters, craftsman, techniques, know-how and trading companies, all of the highest quality, gathered together here is a dream scenario for a designer. It feels a little unreal.


- Is this the first time you have designed porcelain?

Yes, and it has been very difficult. Until clay has been fired twice in the kiln it is a live material. It keeps on changing and you never know what will happen until the very end. Clay shrinks when dried before a firing. After the firing it shrinks again and its colour also changes. The position you give the clay in the kiln during the firing process affects the end result too. All of these processes and techniques are new to me. Porcelain has very original characteristics and perfection is almost impossible to achieve. I greatly admire the Aritaware craftsmen for their ability to control such a material.


- Did you make use of the different techniques available at the potteries?

One skilled pottery is able to mass-produce vessels which are very thick on the bottom yet have a thinner edge. This process cannot be done in Europe, the difference in thickness would normally result in cracked and broken pieces. Here it is achieved through skill and know-how. My role in the 2016/ project is to create something that doesn’t exist so we studied the typologies of cups and dishes used in daily life and compared how those items are used in different times. I have been collecting many images to inform the project.


- Do you begin each project with a fresh perspective?

I learnt when I worked for Konstantin Grcic that starting a new project should mean beginning afresh. The process of designing a spoon is very different from that of designing a car, chair or teapot. If each new project is with a different material, circumstance and client then I should start with a new outlook.


- What do you think about the collaboration between the designers, potters and trading company in the 2016/ project?

It is amazing: very bold and ambitious. I admire the spirit of all those involved, including Teruhiro Yanagihara, the trading company and the potters. It is important that they have done this in order to change the situation in Arita. The designers have a big responsibility; we have to come up with attractive designs that consumers will buy. I am sure the project and the relationships that come from it will also bring more new projects to Arita. There are so many people working together for this project and all are highly motivated, clever and talented. It will be a success!