From our deep respect and adoration of Japanese culture we drew the word “omakase” (meaning “expert’s choice”) in 2016 to name our annual collection of collaboratively produced, limited edition and early release products we offer readers during the holidays. After several COOL HUNTING Omakase releases, we’re thrilled to announced the first-ever batch of gifts crafted entirely in collaboration with Japanese artisans. Each item in the 2019 Omakase series celebrates an artisan, their historic craft and the efforts required to sustain that heritage today.
Many of these partnerships were years in the making; some represent the fulfillment of more recent dreams. Guests on our CH Japan trip were able to meet some of the makers, see early versions of the products and even join certain creators in workshops. For Tokyo DesignArt Week we hosted a pop-up exhibition displaying variations of some of what we’ve included in Omakase. Now, they’re available—in very limited quantities—for purchase.
Every design object we’ve developed has function, but to decipher its untold value requires history lessons. Our vase produced by woodworker Nakagawa Mokkouegi employs a 700-year-old technique and represented a very unique challenge for him—he said our desire to have a vase with an organic shape was the most challenging project he’s worked on. While similar, each of the thirty pieces is unique. In Tokushima’s acclaimed washi paper-producing Awagami Factory, CH favorite Postalco found the materials for our collaborative Farmer’s Felt wallets. Awagami Factory is also making the wrapping paper for this year’s edition.
Kyoto plays host to so many craftspeople and it is there that we fell in love with Hosoo and their fabric collections. Founded in 1688, the textile-maker’s youngest generation keeps alive family secrets while modernizing the business—with the latter including a brand new store, showroom and gallery. The youngest artisan at Kaikado carries on a centuries-old tea canister craft while Kanaami Tsuji, in contrast, is the first to revive the process of weaving metal wire utensils.
These are but some of the partnerships—others include products with Asahiyaki (now led by a talented 16th generation ceramist), Chi Chi, Grisal, KIUN, Taro Tabuchi, Hajime Shoji and Zillion, who wrapped contemporary items in historic Amami Ōshima Tsumugi. Our only American partner, leather accessory and lifestyle brand Anson Calder, worked with Sukumo Leather to produce something in Japan of unexpected beauty and utility. They, like us, sought to honor the crafts that so frequently inspire.
We are grateful to our artisan partners for keeping their craft alive, and for honoring us with these unique collaborations that push the edge of their capabilities and provided us with access to their very limited output. Order your COOL HUNTING Omakase 2019 Collection celebrating Japanese craft now for $5,000. It will be shipped in time for the holidays.
Images by Josh Rubin