The art of craft: Okurayama Studio’s mastery in preserving a volcanic stone by blending it with modern interpretations. The Japanese studio works with various creator around the world with their precious Daté Kan stone, whilst preserving the mountain where the craftsmen mined the material from, through education and interaction

Article by Choi Wei

When we look to the Land of the Rising Sun, we often think of her lead in advanced technology and robotic production of Japanese-made components, materials and ingredients which are being exported overseas. But did you know, besides her impressive scientific capabilities, she’s also surrounded by 112 volcanoes, some active, and some dormant, spread across per 1,000 square miles than any other country on our planet?

 

And from these volcanoes there lies some important raw stones that are rich in minerals, and are suitably used in building construction to art, design and even jewellery.

Okurayama Studio, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

Photo by Isao Hashinoki & image courtesy of Okurayama Studio

These intangible culture heritage, including archaeological remains that may erode with time, are being developed and preserved with such great care, yet the Japanese craftsmen are finding ways to incorporate these raw ingredients to revitalize the local industries and communities. One such collective that’s doing this is called the Okurayama Studio, which is located on a small mountain (or satoyama in Japanese), Mount Okurayama in the northeast part of Japan. The studio lies part of satoyama, or a highland village, which is located roughly 300 meter above sea level at the northern tip of the Abukuma mountain range. What the studio craftsmen did 100 years ago under the founder Chozo Yamada’s directive, is to mine the areas around the mountain respectfully, an unique stone called Daté Kan, which is heavier and hardier than your normal marble stone, but also contains a special black core feature.

 

The Daté Kan stone was formed 20 million years ago as a result of a nearby volcanic explosion, firmly buried deeply underground, and emerging as huge crystal deformations near Mount Okurayama.

Okurayama Studio, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

Photo by Isao Hashinoki & image courtesy of Okurayama Studio

It was right after World War 2, that the Daté Kan stone was used as a masonry stone or for tombstones, but soon artisans discovered the stone’s brilliant feature, that it was used to make sculptures and monuments.

 

Okurayama Studio’s then fourth-generation executive advisor Masahiro Yamada inherited the family business and soon made it his goal to preserve the area surrounding the mountain. He saw to the expansion works of the studio, by using local wood and earth to create the Yamado Salon, a library, as well as a new head office building. But it was also fifth-generation representative Takasuke Yamada’s efforts to create guided tours of Mount Okurayama that he could share and relay the stories and culture of the mountain and the wonders of the Daté Kan stone to the world. With that focus in mind, the studio began to market extensively, and processing the sale of such marvellous stone.

Okurayama Studio, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

Photo by Isao Hashinoki & image courtesy of Okurayama Studio

One artist that embraced this unique stone was none other than designer Dan Yeffet, who represents his own studio, and act as a designer for furniture editors such as Haymann Edition, Gallery S. Bensimon, Collection Particuliere, and Oumm. Dan’s work can be summed up nicely, namely: innovative, simple yet with a strong identity. His works can be found in various museums and galleries around the world such as the New Design Museum in Chicago, the Museum of Art Visual Delight in Philadelphia, the Maritime Museum in New London-US, the Modam Museum in Luxembourg, the FNAC Foundation in Paris, the V & A in London and the Design Museum in Holon Israel.

 

Dan’s work with Okurayama Studio is integral because he showed the stone’s unique capability as a beautiful unconventional piece of art, by exploring step by step the material’s perfect black core in order to create more visual and decorative pieces. What Dan did remarkably was to ‘peel’ the stone’s layer by layer to compare the exterior and interior looks. By combining his knowledge and education for European design with Japanese customary heritage and artisanal craftsmanship, Dan and Okurayama studio’s managing director Takasuke were able to combine an exceptional and informal design equilibrium.

 

The results were two beautiful collections exhibited both in Japan and across Europe in the form of Volcans, a Date-kan stone and hand-blown lamp that comes in two sizes, as well as the ASTON[E]SHING BLACK collection, a limited-edition range of low tables.

Okurayama Studio and Dan Yeffet, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

Image courtesy of Okurayama Studio

With the passing on of traditional stonemasonry to future generations, perhaps we will be able to admire and value even more, the rewards of creating beautiful objects in the coming future with creators in the field of art, design and architecture around the world, whilst preserving the quarry from the mountain to respect the link between nature and humankind. We say, why not?

工艺的艺术: Okurayama工作室将古老的火山石与现代设计相结合。日本工作室的工匠们在挖掘宝贵的date -kan 石材的同时与世界各地的设计师合作,通过教育和互动来保存这座火山。当看到太阳旗时,我们会想到日本的先进的技术和由机器生产的零部件,材料和原料这些出口到海外的产品。但你知道吗,日本除了有令人印象深刻的高科技之外,它还是这个星球上拥有最多火山的国家。被112座火山环绕着,这些分布在1000平方英里的火山有的是活跃的,有些处于休眠状态。这些火山富含重要的矿物质和在建筑、艺术设计甚至珠宝方面都有适当用途的原始宝石。

Article by Choi Wei / Translation by Amber Durrant Feng Yulin

些无形的文化遗产,包括随着时间的推移而可能逐渐消失的考古遗迹,除被精心开发和保存外,日本工匠们也在不断的寻找和探索将这些原材料融入当地的工业和社区的方法。
其中包括位于日本东北部 Okurayama 的 Okurayama的工作室,它坐落于Abukuma山脉北端大约海拔300米的村庄。

Okurayama Studio, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

100年前在创始人Chozo Yamada的指导下,工作室的工匠们怀着对山的尊重,在它周围的区域开采一种比大理石更重、更坚硬,并包含着特殊黑色核心的Date-kan石。Daté Kan石于2000万年前由于附近的火山爆发而形成并深埋于地下,在Okurayama 山附近形成巨大的水晶。
在第二次世界大战之后,Date-kan石被用来作砖石或墓碑,但很快工匠们就发现了这种石头的绝妙,并开始被用来制作雕塑和纪念碑。Okurayama Studio第四代执行顾问 Masahiro Yamada 继承了家族企业后,很快实现了他保护这座山和周围的区域的目标。同时还用当地的木材和泥土完成了工作室的扩建工程,并建造了Yamado Salon,图书馆和新的总部大楼。

Okurayama Studio, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

Okurayama Studio第五代负责人 Takasuke Yamada的努力下,你可以随着Mount Okurayama 的导游来了解有关Mount Okurayama火山的故事和文化,以及 Date-kan石的神奇。因为这些因素,工作室开始了对奇妙的Date-kan石广泛的市场促销售。爱上Date-kan石的还有艺术家和设计师 Dan Yeffet,拥有自己工作室的他,也是是家具编辑 Haymann Edition, Gallery S. Bensimon, Collection Particuliere, 和 Ooumm 的设计师。

Okurayama Studio, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

Dan的风格可以总结为: 创新,简约和具有强烈的个性。你可以在世界各地的博物馆和美术馆等找到他的作品,如芝加哥的New Design Museum, 费城的 Museum of Art Visual Delight艺术博物馆的视觉愉悦, 美国 New London 的 Maritime Museum London-US,卢森堡的Modam MuseumModam,巴黎的 FNAC Foundation,伦敦的 V & A in London 和以色列 Holon 的 Design Museum。

 

Dan的设计是 Okurayama Studio 工作室不可分割的重要部门,他展示了Date-kan石独特,非传统的美丽,通过对Date-kan石一步一步的探索以展示完美的黑色核心,创造更多的视觉和装饰效果。Dan 将欧洲设计的知识和教育与日本传统的手工艺结合起来, 将石头层层剥离以展示和比较石头外部和内部的质感。Dan 和 Okurayama 工作室管理总监 Takasuke 将奇异和非传统的设计完美的结合起来。结果是两个优美的设计系列在日本和整个欧洲展出,它们包括 Volcans,  a Date-kan石和有两个尺寸的手工吹制的灯具,以及ASTON[E]SHING BLACK 系列和一款限量版的矮桌。

Okurayama Studio and Dan Yeffet, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

着传统石匠对未来几代的传承,也许在未来我们将能够欣赏世界各地的作品和更加重视未来对艺术、设计和建筑领域优雅设计的回报,在保护采石场的同时也尊重自然与人类之间的联系。为什么不呢?

Okurayama Studio and Dan Yeffet, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

Photo by Isao Hashinoki & image courtesy of Okurayama Studio

Okurayama Studio and Dan Yeffet, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

Image courtesy of Okurayama Studio

Okurayama Studio and Dan Yeffet, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

Photo by Isao Hashinoki & image courtesy of Okurayama Studio

Okurayama Studio, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

Image courtesy of Okurayama Studio

Okurayama Studio, the art of craft. Date Kan, datekan vulcanic stones Japan

Image courtesy of Okurayama Studio


Credits

Photos by Isao Hashinoki, images courtesy of Okurayama Studio Ltd. and Dan Yeffet Studio © All Rights Reserved