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Series: Lines of Support for Things and People #15 – Vases for Flowers

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Mai Tsunoo / Design Writer
Mai Tsunoo / Design Writer

After graduating from the Faculty of Environmental Information at Keio University, she worked for a manufacturer, and from 2012 to 2016, she worked as an assistant to designer and engineer Shunji Yamanaka. After spending a year in Scotland, she is now working as a freelancer.
While exploring expressions to convey what needs to be conveyed without hesitation, she writes for media such as "Nikkei Design" and handles exhibition composition and copywriting.
Her main work includes the composition of the 70th anniversary exhibition of the University of Tokyo's Institute of Industrial Science "The Future May Be Engineering x Design" (The National Art Center, Tokyo, 2018), the text for "Insect Exhibition – Design Inspiration" (21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, 2019), etc.
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The end of 2023 is fast approaching. Until a few years ago, people would reflect on items they bought during the year on social media. Recently, I haven't been doing that, so I thought back on the items that came into my house over the past few years. Surprisingly, I realized there were a bunch of vases and related items. As a functional tool, I like vases.
I use some to arrange flowers regularly, while others are just for decorative purposes. This time, I'd like to introduce some of the vases in my house. Please note that I don’t know anything about flower arrangement and pursue it on my own.
OPEN OBJECT is a brand based in Shanghai that designs ceramics. Their 对 (dui) series includes a vase with a rounded bottom that I own and its counterpart with a rounded top, as the name suggests. I had been admiring their work ever since I first saw it, and two of my friends, who were based in Shanghai at the time, gave me a set as a birth gift. I like the pureness of their designs, which remind me of geometric math models. They match with any type of flower, so I always keep them in my dining room.
Hikaru Ichijo is an illustrator who is also known for their ceramic pieces. After contributing to their collection, 'WORK OUT', I bought a vase they designed at an exhibition in Fukuoka along with a silkscreen work with a vase motif.
The bright color schemes indicative of Ichijo's illustrations are well-suited to bold flowers. Although they often use human figures as motifs, they manage to avoid making their work feel overly characteristic. I am looking forward to tulip season, so I can match the vase with her illustrations.
Whether or not Kana Ueda's works can be called 'vases' is unclear, but they have small holes that can accommodate thin branches. I don't think I can change the water, so I can't put anything other than dried flowers in them. Ueda herself wasn't interested in the functionality of ceramics when I talked to her. That's okay, though. I appreciate her beautiful inlaid work and enjoy it as a ceramic object.
You can also hang a vase on the wall. I purchased a single flower vase from woodworker Go Koyama during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like his other pieces, this vase is made by hollowing out a piece of wood. The material for this piece is Itaya Maple from Hokkaido, and there is a thin copper cylinder inside where you can put a flower. Koyama told me that vine plants go well with it, but it also makes a good home for wildflowers with a free and slightly rustic vibe. Neither Japanese nor Western, it's a flower vase unique to his wood carving style.
Makoto Kagoshima's fox figurine just arrived at our house. I fell in love with it at first sight at the 'Makoto Kagoshima: Daily' exhibition at PLAY! MUSEUM in Tachikawa, which runs until January 2024, and purchased it in the museum shop. It's part of a series called 'En Liten Vän' (Swedish for 'A Small Friend'), produced by Sweden's Keramik Studion, and there are other animals available as well. Kagoshima's exhibition was well-constructed, with daily time represented as a fun way to connect ceramics and textiles as tools with the space of the museum. I want the monkey too.
I also have a vase I bought at a market in Thailand, and sometimes I put flowers in empty bottles of Aesop toner or wine, but in any case, there's joy in the act of choosing flowers and vases and arranging them. It's the end of the year when work is demanding, but I'd like to at least preserve the time to admire flowers.
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