Hitomi Hosono is breathing new life into the world of modern Japanese ceramics with her magnificently textured porcelain creations. Drawing on her impeccable ability to remember every detail from the delicate petals of a flower to the intricate webbing of the leaves, Hosono fashions the most exquisite pieces I have seen in a long time. When I say that every room needs at least one great accent piece, this is what I’m talking about!
After studying in Japan and Denmark, Hosono finished at the Royal College of Art in London and then took a position with the best known of England’s great potters – Wedgwood. There she honed her craft and took inspiration from the centuries old institution before realizing that it was time to “branch” out on her own if she was going to be allowed the freedom to develop her amazing craft.
For her signature works, Hosono meticulously hand carves individual flowers and leaves and then carefully arranges and affixes them to her hand thrown vessels. The largest of these richly carved vases can take upwards of five months to dry – and that’s after the month it can take to model the individual flowers and leaves and another month it takes to set them all into place.!!! The results remind me of antique shibayama, the Japanese art of carving flowers and foliage from ivory and mother-of-pearl used to decorate boxes, vases and table screens. It’s just a modern update on an old tradition.
I like to look at these modern Japanese ceramics in two distinct ways: first as the marvelous boxes and bowls that would be perfect accents to any interior. The rich black box, whose exterior is covered in a swirl of foliage, opens to reveal a warm glow of gold gilding. While another of her bowls appears to be filled with a collection of leaves just blown in from the garden. It’s when you see these pieces close up and can really appreciate their fine detail that their beauty really comes forth. These are the type of pieces guests will cross a room to inspect, and I’m all for encouraging engagement with décor.
The other side to Hosono’s work is the sculptural “towers”, as she calls them – riotous explosions of flowers and leaves that burst forth from porcelain vases and containers. There is such lightness and airiness to her work that the leaves seem swept upwards in a swirl of wind that isn’t really there. I love that these are monochromatic so that they can hold their own in any space – both traditional where they reinforce the past, and also in a contemporary space where they remind us that the world of decorative arts is very much alive and constantly changing.
These are modern Japanese ceramics at their best: startlingly bold and immensely beautiful. Hosono lives and works in England combining the traditions and styling of her homeland’s past with the vivacity of life in 21st century London. It’s little wonder the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington displays one of her works in its Japanese Gallery where it takes its place fitting perfectly in line with the greatest artwork of the past inspiring visitors to imagine the future.
Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel: Interiors+ Art, a studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising.
image credits: modern japanese ceramics: Hitomi Hosono. The artist is represented by Adrian Sassoon, London.