Asemi Co.’s Bizen-yaki cups are the work of Kiko Ando, who collects soil from local hills and rice paddies for his clay. His kiln is fired continuously for an entire week and the technique he uses — sangiri — means just 100 can be made each time. These truly are extra special items. Every Asemi Co. cup is unique and Ando only makes 200 a year.
As one of Japan’s oldest forms of pottery, Bizen-yaki’s beauty lies in its rustic characteristics, created using techniques that purposely leave much to the wonders of serendipity. Its warm-red patterns and constellations of tiny flecks are the product of wood ash of the kiln settling and melting on the clay’s surface. Though unpredictable, this is not random. It takes incredible skill and energy to create Bizen-yaki, with artisans hand-finishing every item and often firing their kilns just twice a year.
Asemi Co., the brainchild of designers and friends Yuki and Lars, is founded on a mutual love for and sincere desire to help preserve Japanese traditional ceramics. There are only two cup designs — large and small — but copious pottery styles. Deliberately minimalist to draw attention to the color, texture and artisanal complexities, each cup also has an unglazed section to highlight differences in raw materials. All stackable, no matter the pottery style or cup size, they are not only a delight to behold, but a treasure to hold.