From pouring a cup of tea to presenting a business card, the Japanese are big on ceremony. Take the traditional way to wrap a present. The Japanese painstakingly tie theirs with handmade cord called mizuhiki, which is made by fusing paper with glue and water and stretching it out into a strong, supple ribbon (dye is also added to create different colors). The practice dates from the seventh century, when envoys from China arrived bearing gifts wrapped in a manner which the Japanese court had never seen before. Entranced, they adopted the custom and mizuhiki was born.
Fast forward to 2010, and Ken Yokomizo and Mariko Murai of the Tokyo design firm OEY have given mizuhiki a modern twist (get it?) by fashioning it into these gorgeous napkin rings. They’ve named them Wa, a Japanese word that means to join the mind of one person to another and to open one’s heart—which sounds like a pretty good way to start a meal. We also love the way they’ve updated an ancient art form with contemporary style. The rings’ loops were inspired by the ripples you see on the surface of water, and the stunning color combinations—we’re offering our three favorites, pink, orange and blue—are the result of hundreds of trial-and-error tests.
With the holidays coming up, we’re imagining dinner parties with our prettiest linen napkins topped with these conversation-starting rings. On second thought, why wait? As Yokomizo, who explains that OEY means “celebration” in Japanese, says, “We would like to make the user feel a bit of celebration in their daily life.” With these festive napkin rings, that won’t be difficult.