The year was 1904 when Baron Ichizaemon Morimura and a few others established a factory and a company to produce porcelain-ware in Nippon Toke, Nagoya, Japan called Nippon Toki Gomei Kaisha. Combining the European influence of porcelain-ware with the age old charm of Japanese artistry, Japan’s first Western-style dinner set was produced in 1914 and imported to USA, heralding in a new chapter for Noritake. The company took the opportunity and expanded to several countries the world over. One destination of Noritake was Sri Lanka where they began operations in 1972 as Lanka Porcelain, which later became Noritake Lanka Porcelain, gaining much repute not only within the Island but beyond.
BONE CHINA AND FINE CHINA
Noritake produces lovely porcelainware using both bone and fine china where bone china is utilised to produce items for fine dining. How bone china differs from fine china is the method in which it is derived. As the name perhaps suggests, bone china includes bone ash, usually the ash of cattle bone extracted from a special process and sourced from the UK, among the other raw materials used in fine china such as quartz, feldspar and kaolin. Due to the special materials used in producing bone china, it is much sought after for its exceptional levels of whiteness, translucency and lightness. Further it is surmised as having a very high mechanical strength and being chip resistant as well, leading bone china to be priced at a higher level than fine china.
FROM CONCEPT TO STORE
Once a design has been developed, following extensive research on each market which the product is catered towards, the process of manufacturing begins. First the raw material comprising of cattle bone, quartz, feldspar and kaolin is crushed in a ball mill for nearly 36 hours resulting in a liquid, which is dewatered and kept aside as a lump under ideal humidity and temperature for maturing. After the lump reaches the ideal level of maturity, it is processed through a mill to attain clay cylinders that is utilised to sculpt. Sculpting a porcelain product is an art that requires a soft touch and much patience. Handling of the creation with much care and finesse when delicately moulding, trimming and attaching the handle, if needed, is given special attention to obtain the most exquisite and precise product possible.
At Noritake, decalcomania and traditional hand painting techniques are utilised to achieve charming yet breathtaking motifs that is the heart and soul of enticing a buyer to purchase a porcelain product
After an inspection of the object, it is then subjected to ‘soft biscuit firing’ at a temperature of 950 degrees Celsius where it gains ideal water absorbing conditions for glazing. The glazing process involves skill as the handler is required to securely hold the object by the fingertips to dip it into the recommended depth in liquid glaze. After the glazing process is concluded with sponging the edge of the object, it is guided through a kiln at a temperature of 1,300 degrees Celsius for the object to acquire the necessary shine. This procedure is named glossed firing.
The next stage is the decal application and at Noritake, decalcomania and traditional hand painting techniques are utilised to achieve charming yet breathtaking motifs that is the heart and soul of enticing a buyer to purchase a porcelain product. In decalcomania, used for mass production, patterns are first printed on a paper, which is dampened and then pasted to the surface of the object carefully. Then the object is processed through a third round of firing called decal firing where the pasted paper is burnt and the pattern with over-glazed colours is transmitted to the surface. Hand painting, especially when it comes to putting the gold lining along the porcelain-ware requires skill and attention as one guides the brush in the patterned path with steady hands. Once the object is driven through the firing process the seemingly brownish coat takes on a gold tinge.
IN THE STORE
Within the store, white is the predominant colour with overtones of black and brown and at times silver present amidst the furniture, which provides a contrast from the otherwise seemingly monotonous colour scheme. However, this setting imparts the ideal environment to draw the attention to the porcelain-ware, which yields a subtle yet stirring presence entrancing one to have a closer look at each of the beautiful pieces on display. Flowers seem to be the dominating theme as most porcelain-ware exhibit lovely motifs with trailing blooms and leaves embellished in either pure platinum, 22 karat gold or vibrant colours. Some are painstakingly hand painted while others are processed through the decalcomania process.
The latest collection of Noritake, cher blanc, made of bone china and pure white, unveils a high-gloss appearance with dainty designs that dip and swell in the white setting. Sophistication and class are at the core of this design that bespeaks of the epitome of fine dining, and enables one to showcase the beauty of a dish to perfection. Ranging from mid-range prices to high-end, some of the items on display at the showroom include limited editions such as the Hanakinsai Yuri (Golden Lily) and the Hanaginsai Yuri (Silver Lily) that could cost well over USD 13,000 depending on the size of the dining set.
The Hanakinsai Yuri, dipped in ruby red and adorned with golden lily flowers, coveys a more feminine look while the blue tinged Hanaginsai Yuri with its elegant lines and butterflies in the blooming lilies, all hued in silver conveys elegance.
Adorned with such exceptional pieces, finesse pentrates each piece at Noritake where the chronicles of porcelain never ends.