Interview: Teruhiro Yanagihara
Japanese designer Teruhiro Yanagihara is one half of the Creative Director team for 2016/ . His role has been integral to shaping this ambitious project over the past three years; he has worked closely with the makers in Arita and the international designers to develop a series of approximately 300 new porcelain objects that promote the skills of this special region to the world. As the collection becomes available to the public, we ask Teruhiro Yanagihara to share his thoughts with us on the future of the project.
The new Aritaware products have just gone on sale. Do you yet know the response to them?
It is usual that the story of a product might be told as it first goes on sale. However, for 2016/ we have been communicating with the media throughout the lengthy production process, introducing the concept during the Milan Salone del Mobile in 2015 and then launching the full collection of prototypes the following year in an extensive exhibition at the 2016 Milan Salone del Mobile. As a result, people around the world have known about Arita's new products for some time. There has been great anticipation and as the porcelain went on sale we heard many people saying "finally, I can buy them". The process differed from that previously undertaken by the makers in Arita and it has greatly affected early sales.
Seibu Sogo is the first retailer for 2016/ . Why did you choose them?
We were not just looking for someone offering a place to sell but for a retailer who would explain our manufacturing and the story of Arita too. Neither our potteries nor our designers can stand on the shop floor and explain the products directly to the customers so we need retail partners who can tell these stories on our behalf. The buyers at Seibu Sogo have visited Arita many times since the 2016/ project began and understood the intention of the project. They have also witnessed all the stages of the product development. Even before we knew exactly what products were to be made, they were excited to retail the collection. They showed the same kind of enthusiasm we have as stakeholders. The
2016/ project has received financial support as a part of Saga Prefecture’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of Aritaware. After this support ends, how will the project continue?
It is important to expand sales not only in Japan but also internationaly. In that respect, it is good that the overseas designers involved in the project can play the role of ambassadors for 2016/ in their own countries. Designers from the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States are involved in the project. I am proud that we have produced Aritaware they are proud to sell: It’s very encouraging. It is our goal that Arita porcelain becomes recognised internationaly.