Interviews: Mr Kubota, Kubota Minoru Ceramics
Kubota Minoru Ceramics in Arita is particularly well known for a specific object; a porous ceramic coffee filter. This innovative porcelain product was developed independently by Kubota Minoru and is now a popular international product. For 2016/, they have undertaken their first collaboration with an international designer; Swiss design team BIG-GAME. We asked Mr. Kubota about this experience and his opinions on the future of Aritaware.
- You have made a collection of new kitchen tools such as pots and kettles with BIG-GAME. What was your experience of the design process?
The designs by BIG-GAME are simple and functional. The designers paid much attention to small details such as the size and thickness of the porcelain, the finishing of the edges and the texture of the glaze. In instances where we had to explain that something was technically impossible, they were always understanding, they were flexible and adapted the design. We found the members of BIG-GAME to be very amenable and humble people.
- What technical difficulties did you come up against when making the pieces?
The cooking pot was particularly awkward in terms of production. It looks great; it is a trapezoid shape with an open top and it goes in at the bottom, but this is difficult to make in porcelain. At first we planned to raise the clay upward while rotating it, as on a potters wheel, building the shape upwards, but that was unsuccessful. For this reason, we changed the molding method to slip casting. We modified the mold many times until it was correct.
- The 2016/ project has been three years in development now. What do you feel that you have learnt during this time?
We learned how to make products to a designer’s exact wants. Previously, I have never needed to follow drawings faithfully. However, in this instance as the designers have carefully thought out their intentions, we learned that it is important to accept the design frankly and to give technical support. As a company, our eye for strict quality has developed and grown. We have improved quality control in areas such as applying glaze and finishes.
- Until now, Saga Prefecture has been involved in the project. But from here on you will work alone on everything from product development to sales promotion. What are your plans for the future?
I have had positive feedback regarding several of the BIG-GAME products and so I expect upcoming sales. Currently we are in a situation where deliveries are delayed so we intend to make efforts to improve the production system and ensure a stable and reliable supply. At the same time, we are working on the production of a new coffee filter and we will continue to focus on coffee related products.