The Mino region of Gifu prefecture is home to one of the oldest and largest ceramics industries in Japan. The region is defined by its wide range of manufacturing, which includes traditional Mino ware, common tableware and fine ceramic products, such as tiles, for use in architecture and infrastructure projects. Essential to the industry’s development has been the quality of the soil found in Mino.Mino Soil is a brand that uses design to convey the beauty and potential of the region’s soil. Made by local people using local soil, the brand’s interior accessories address the needs of residential, commercial and public spaces. Each product contains a timeless beauty and appeal, connecting Mino’s craftspeople with the world and raising awareness of soil. In order to achieve this, the brand works with unique designers who truly recognise the preciousness of resources, pursuing a fresh approach to manufacturing. Environmental issues are also being addressed through initiatives such as the development of technology for recycling materials. The aim is to connect soil, blessed by the earth, with a sustainable way of life.
Passed down through generations, Mino’s techniques and the gifts of nature can play an important role in the pursuit of innovation. Commencing in 2021, Mino Soil will present the results of its endeavours across three exhibitions.
Around two to five million years ago, the Mino region lay at the bottom of the expansive Tokai Lake. As the surrounding landscape was weathered away, particles of granite and other materials flowed into the lake and settled in the clay. Over a long period of time, the clay layer formed at the bottom of the lake, accumulating in depth and gradually maturing. As the land rose, the rich, diverse soil came to the surface and along with the natural environment, blessed with forests and water, laid the foundation for Mino’s manufacturing culture. In this region, soils are meticulously mixed based on an understanding of the optimal clay for a given application. Drawing out the potential of materials with ingenuity, the Mino region has built one of the world’s leading ceramic cultures, dating back some 1300 years.
MINO SOIL exhibition vol.1 Archaeology of Mino
In the beginning, there was soil. People living in the Mino region of Gifu prefecture began using soil to make clay vessels, and over a long period of time they developed a variety of industries and cultures. The people gathered around manufacturing, turning villages into towns, towns into cities. Their lives, along with nature itself, were nurtured by the shapeless raw material. For Mino Soil’s initial exhibition, Archaeology of Mino, the brand has collaborated with Indian architectural firm Studio Mumbai to produce a space based on the theme of soil and clay quarries. While products born from the soil are a common part of daily life, the quarries and the soil they produce are far less visible. The exhibition space reveals the primitive presence and beauty of soil through raw objects made from various soils from the Mino region. Created by hand, the objects bring out the character of each material. Additionally, photographs of quarries, taken by Yurika Takano, provide a chance to experience the primary scenery of manufacturing in the Mino region. The layers of clay, witnessed at the quarries, are evidence of the tens of millions of years of history residing beneath the ground. Soil is the history of the earth itself, within which humans are just one element. Archaeology of Mino provides an opportunity to consider this in the context of the earth’s cycle.
Bijoy Jain, born in 1965 in Mumbai, studied at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. He worked in Los Angeles and London before returning to India in 1995, the year when he founded Studio Mumbai. His work explores the boundaries between art, architecture and material. His studio operates as an interdisciplinary group of architects, engineers, master builders, artisans, technicians and artists across continents. As a collective, they are involved in the research and development of projects, using process and time as an integral part of its expression; water, air and light being the basis of all materiality in the synthesis of the work… man in nature – nature in man.
Bijoy taught as a visiting Professor at Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut) and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Copenhagen. He currently teaches at the Academia of Architettura in Mendrisio (Switzerland). His works have been exhibited in numerous galleries around the world and have been acquired in the collection of Canadian Centre for Architecture, MOMA San Francisco and The Pompidou Centre in Paris. He is a recipient of several International awards.
In our daily lives, we are surrounded by ceramic object. But we are usually not really aware that these objects are made of actual soil, in the form of clay: A finite resource that is millions of years old. In the Mino area, there are a number of clay quarries that are still mining the soil that is the raw material for countless products and objects and the foundation of entire industries. For more than 1300 years, clay has been mined in Mino, yet the techniques and vast knowledge related to clay accumulated over the centuries and the characteristics of this particular clay itself are widely unknown: In the past century, the awareness of soil as a primal material and essential resource has disappeared behind cheap, uniform, mass-produced ceramic products.
Making well designed, lasting objects locally, from local clay, MINO SOIL tries to raise awareness of the excellence of crafts in Mino and “soil” as an important, finite resource and essential material.
David Glaettli (creative director)
David Glaettli was trained in industrial design in Milan and Lausanne (ECAL). He worked as a product designer in Zurich and after 2008 in Osaka. In 2013, he founded Glaettli Design Direction Ltd. specialising on creative direction, branding and design consulting. Besides Karimoku New Standard, David Glaettli is also the creative director of the brands Tajimi Custom Tiles, Sumida Contemporary and Mino Soil. After living & working in Kyoto and Tokyo, he is today based in Zurich with a mainstay in Tokyo. www.davidglaettli.jp
The AXIS Forum talk with Bijoy Jain (Studio Mumbai) from 8. June 2021 can now be watched here
The official photos of our exhibition “Archaeology of Mino” in collaboration with Studio Mumbai (8-13 June 2021) can be downloaded here.
10-6-55 Asahigaoka Tajimi
Gifu 507-0071 Japan
T +81 572 20 0711
F +81 572 20 0722
Founder: Masashi Kasai (X’S Corporation),
Hideya Izawa (IZAWA Corporation)
Creative Direction: David Glaettli
Graphic Design, Web Design &
Development: Sebastian Fehr
Photography: Yurika Kono
Sound: Ryota Fujiguchi
Japanese Text: Takahiro Tsuchida
English Translation: Ben Davis
PR: Naoko Takegeta