Member Since 2010
Product: Mizuhiki Napkin Rings
Mizuhiki is a Japanese art that creates beautiful ribbon by fusing paper with water and glue, then stretching it under high tension. Developed in the seventh century and traditionally used to tie gift boxes, it’s been adapted by OEY design director Ken Yokomizo and design manager Mariko Murai to make gorgeous napkin rings (OEY means “celebration” in Japanese). Mixing equal parts Japanese craftsmanship and modern design—the pair names the legendary Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass as a major influence—they’re an easy way to make any meal more festive. “We would like to make the user feel a bit of celebration in their daily life,” says Yokomizo, who spoke to AHAlife on behalf of the duo.
What inspired you to create these napkin rings?
We were inspired by the textures we see in nature, such as ripples in water, as well as by traditional knotting patterns.
How were the napkin rings made?
The project is a total design development that’s intended to spread the traditional Japanese culture of Iyo-Mizuhiki in the Ehime Prefecture (Iyo is a city in Ehime). Mizuhiki is traditionally used for ceremonial occasions as a way of knotting gifts but it’s also a highly technical way of using paper at high tension. We’re adapting this traditional craft to suit modern lifestyles while at the same time keeping our products within the context of Mizuhiki traditional culture.
What was the big aha! you had while creating the napkin rings?
When we were designing this product, we created hundreds of prototypes in different color combinations. We finally found a simple rule to combine five colors in six different ways. That was a big aha! for us.
Can you describe your creative process?
We discuss each project until we have the same vision of what we want to create. Then we rapidly sketch ideas, start making prototypes immediately and have another discussion while looking at the prototypes. We choose one of the prototypes and then make color variations. Then we discuss the project again. We continue this process until we come to the ideal product aesthetic.