When founder James Freeman and ceramicist Yumiko Iihoshi met to chat about collaborating on handcrafted cups for this year’s holiday collection, they found they had more in common than a love of coffee; they shared a devotion to monozukuri. A loose translation is craftsmanship, but a closer look at the word reveals that it’s not the maker that matters, but the thing that's made.
We saw this principle in practice at Yumiko’s studio, a fifteen-minute walk from our Aoyama cafe.
A tour there revealed a team dedicated to making every cup, plate, and saucer as refined as possible—a task we relate to, when we pour coffee one at a time.
Yumiko designs objects that straddle the “border between handmade and manufactured.” She believes that a handcrafted object should hold no trace of fingerprints, and a machine-made object should radiate warmth.
A central goal of monozukuri is to remove all that’s unnecessary, even an extra ounce of clay. The result should be functional, and beautiful, too. Yumiko’s pieces are like this. In your hands, they are like the finest woven linen—a balance of delicacy and strength.
Yumiko and James wanted the color of the glaze to evoke the shifting light from morning to afternoon—a shade that’s blue or grey (or in between) depending on the time of day. Our collaboration with Yumiko led to two different-sized cups and saucers that make beautiful vessels for our coffee.
A larger cup for a morning single origin.
A smaller cup for the afternoon.