PingMag caught up with Keiichi Matsuo of Hakusan Porcelain, an eighth generation ceramic company in Nagasaki, Japan. His father introduced a design-based approach to traditional crafts in the 1950's employing designer Masahiro Mori.
As the story goes, the famous industrialist Konosuke Matsushita was disembarking from an airplane after a trip around the world when he said "This is the beginning of the Design Era." My father heard that and thought, "Oh, so that's what era it is. But, what is design? If Konosuke Matsushita says it's the Design Era, then it must be so. OK then, let's hire a designer. I wonder where we find one of those?"
Peaking in 1980, a slow decline set in as sales began to drop off year after year, the economy burst and by 1998 Matsuo thought he was going under. Things changed for the better when he sidestepped his distributors and began exhibiting at Tableware trade shows. The collection was met with a positive reaction and the company discovered a new audience for their contemporary minimal range.
Read the full interview here.