I have a soft spot for albums about craftsmanship, especially Japanese ones which offer a modern twist. That’s why I couldn’t contain my joy when I got my hands on Utsuwa: it’s a great overview of the most interesting craftsmen in Japan who create really different wonders: wooden items, indigo-dyed materials, glass and ceramics. The authors also share their favorite galleries and fairs, where you can hunt down both new art and antiques.
There is something about Japanese contemporary ceramics that I am terribly drawn to: it is often rough, not uniform in color and is often created by people for whom not only harmony with nature is important, but also the local aspect of their work (the photos also feature the beautiful spaces where the artworks are created!)
I am very happy that one of the first people introduced in the book is Nobuko Konno, who creates truly exceptional pottery in Naha, Okinawa (I had the opportunity to see her works live and if I had more space in my luggage, I would definitely come back with too many plates). She fires the stove only a few times a year, so I dream of hunting down some of her work, made from scratch from Okinawan materials (Nobuko even collects clay herself.)
But if you ceramics is not your thing, then take a look at the beautiful kanami, i.e. traditional kitchen utensils made of wire. I dream of a beautiful strainer with a chrysanthemum flower pattern by Toru Tsuji. Or for paper cutouts by Keiko Hagikara, which (I hope) one day I will be able to afford and proudly display above my desk.