25,000 pieces of flawed pottery line the floors of the Maruhiro flagship store in Japan – and it’s safe to say there’s not another design like it anywhere in the world.
Photos: Takumi Ota
Maruhiro is a leading producer of Hasami ceramics in Nagasaki prefecture, an area with a history of ceramic tableware production and wholesale distribution dating back to the early 17th century.
For the renovation of their pre-existing flagship store, the company wanted to create a ‘special place’ that could exist only in the historical location of Hasami (the town where Hasami ceramics get their name).
They enlisted the help of designer Yusuke Seki to drive this site-specific concept.
The designer sought to amplify the Hasami heritage through the construction of a stacked platform made from 25,000 pieces of ‘imperfect pottery’ and poured concrete. The pieces of pottery were sourced locally from numerous factories in the area with each piece, called ‘Shinikiji’ in Japanese, found to be flawed after the initial bisque-firing process.
By ‘reviving’ or upcycling the pieces for use as a new architectural material just for the occasion, Seki has given newfound value to these products. At the same time, the stacked platform itself serves as a symbol of “Monohara”, the kiln site-specific areas where these items are disposed. These areas exist solely in Nagasaki, which have accrued these imperfect pieces of pottery for approximately 400 years.
The project not only creates a one-of-a-kind retail experience through the marriage of architectural knowledge and artisanal know-how, but also promotes a sense of reverence for the history of Hasami ceramic making.