Blue and white Ming vases come to mind when thinking about Eastern pottery and porcelain. And there are definitely some beautiful traditional pieces to be found. However, there is more to see on the design scene in China, Japan and South Korea. Over the past decade, I have come across a few contemporary brands that take their design a bit further. In addition to focusing on appealing aesthetics, they create items effortlessly utilised for both Eastern and Western day to day dining.
The eternal challenge for the European cook is finding local dishes that will actually be used as Asian meals are normally served on small plates or bowls. I discovered the pictured large flat Celadon plates from Korean Kwangjuyo. Their aim is to take the spirit of royal pottery making and adapting it to modern tastes.
Korean pottery come in a clean white, blue and white, and and a neutral gray, but the most characteristic is a lovely shade of green. Celadon as this greenware is called, was produced in the Goreyon period. It originated in China, but the most coveted items in this jade green glaze is Korean. Remakes of classic patterns and modern designs can be found all over Seoul and most of South Korea.
An alternative colour much used by Kwangjuyo is the, simple muted black. It can be seen on both modern and traditional tables all over Asia. Often, it is used to elevate the look of a colourful dish, but also works well in a nordic home for plain meal with bread. It particularly accentuates wooden and white tableware. Another option is to let the brownish black be featured as a calming basic on an otherwise colourful table.
A brand sold worldwide is Japanese Muji. I have found that their plain white china looks great with almost all coloured plates and bowls. They also make tableware to be used for both Asian and Western cuisines. As a result their plates and bowl come in impressive range of sizes and shapes. And as with all Muji products, they are moderately priced and highly durable.
Fujimotoyako create the prettiest white plates and miniature vases. I discovered them in a tiny shop named Fantastic in Tokyo’s Aoyama neighbourhood. Their clean looking ceramic has an almost translucent, matte finish that feels both luxurious, yet down to earth.
Spin is a Chinese ceramics brand previously found in Shanghai´s Jing’an district. Their vision is to combine ultra-modern design with the millennia-old tradition of Chinese ceramics.
Tip: Local shops, markets and countryside potteries are great places for good buys. Particularly if you are looking for something traditional, reasonable and often one of a kind. The outskirts of Seoul has some great pottery districts, whereas Tokyo´s Kappabashi Kitchen Town caters for budding junior gourmets and professional chefs alike.