the inden technique – 400+ years of Japanese tradition

A good personal friend at Sotheby’s recently introduced me to the Japanese technique called Inden, which in so many words is urishi-lacquer delicately applied to deerskin.  The technique is normally found today in small personal items like wallets and handbags.

One of the oldest firms still doing this today is Koshu Inden (established 1582 in the Yamanashi prefecture) whose techniques and secrets have been passed down to the present family member running the workshop.
The effect is rather unusual and very attractive.  The lacquer seeps into the leather creating wonderful relief patterns that change in color with time … think of it as patina.  And although there are numerous patterns and colors, there are not as many as I would think, making this something for a creative furniture/home accessories designer to further explore. Surely other patterns can be incorporated using the technique.
So, how to apply this to the home:  I’m thinking small table-top boxes, mirror and picture frames, cocktail tables wrapped in this leather and even more tempting, and decadent, using it on walls for a bedroom, library or study.  I expect you can have large panels of this made – you just have to find yourself a herd of enormous deer!
image credits: Inden-Ya, Japan.
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