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Susumu Chaya, Kagoshima city

The hand painted sign for Susumu Chaya.
Green tea is a mainstay of every Japanese family's day. Taku-san, our guide during our recent trip to Japan, described how it is the first thing to pass the lips of his children in the morning, and it is drunk, hot and cold, throughout the day. In Kagoshima city, we went to visit the wonderful Susumu Chaya, or Susumu-ya Japanese Tea House, where Koutaruu Shinpara offers a collection of teas, all of which are grown in the local area, before being picked and steamed or roasted, and painstakingly served up in this relaxed and airy space.

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Oxfordshire wooden tableware

Turned wooden bowls and plate from Alistair Phillips.
On a damp but bright January morning we visited the workshop of Alistair Phillips amidst the South Oxfordshire Chiltern Hills. Here Alistair practices wood-turning, producing mostly simple and functional tableware, green wood working, as well as running courses teaching coracle making, which he also builds.

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Kanai Mudding Works

The hands of Yukihito Kanai.
The hands of Yukihito Kanai, proprietor and head dyer at the Kanai Mudding Works - a trade he learned and workshop he inherited from his father - are stained a deep blue from the endless dipping of hands into 'Ai', (Japanese Indigo) and Sharimbai dyes.

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Satsuma Kiriko

Bi-coloured Satsuma Kiriko glass in Shimazu purple and red.
On our recent trip to Kogoshima Prefecture in southern Japan we visited an incredible glass-making factory, where glass is mouth blown in two layers or more layers, before being expertly and painstakingly hand-cut and polished to blend colours in elaborate and uniquely graduated patterns.

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Abacá & Oshima Tsumugi at Nakae silk-works

Weaving abacá cloth at Nakae Silk Works, in Kagoshima city, Kyushu.
As part of our recent tour of Japanese artisanal production, we visited the Nakae family of Nakae Silk Works, in Kagoshima city, Kyūshū; a small loom and dying workshop where father, mother, and son work together to create some very special fabrics, using techniques specific to this region some of which date back 1300 years.

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From Hokkaido to Amami Oshima

Outside the workshop of Seto Susumu, near Asahikawa City, Hokkaido, Japan
Kanai Mudding Works, Amami Ōshima, Japan
This November we were lucky enough to be invited to an all too brief workshop tour of Japan. Beginning in Asahikawa on the northern island of Hokkaido we travelled via a brief stop in Tokyo to Kagoshima Prefecture on the southern tip of Kyūshū, and on to Amami Ōshima, a subtropical Pacific island close to Okinawa. Whilst in Hokkaido we had the chance to visit and watch at work the makers of some of our most beautifully crafted wooden products, whilst in Kagoshima and Amami following a presentation about our work here in the UK, we had the opportunity to visit a range of craftspeople whose work we hadn’t encountered before. It's been an incredible voyage of discovery, providing an insight into the outstanding and inventive techniques employed throughout Japan in woodwork, glasswork, ceramics, and silk. We’ll be posting more individually in the coming weeks, explaining a little about the working processes and techniques we encountered, and sharing films of the remarkable craftsmanship at work.

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OoU at the Laing

Objects of Use at the Laing Gallery, Newcastle.
The second instalment of our section of The Arts and Crafts House, Then and Now is up and running. We travelled up to Newcastle recently to install the show at the Laing gallery, a wonderful gallery designed in the Baroque style with Art Nouveau elements by architects Cackett and Burns Dick.

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A visit to Botton village

Finding our way to Botton
On a recently mist shrouded morning we were lucky enough to pay a visit to Botton Village Camphill Community, manufacturers of some of our favourite offerings. Located near Whitby, in the North York Moors, and surrounded by five of their own biodynamic organic farms, the village consists of some older, pre-existing houses, and many more built by and for the community in a unique style derived from their Steiner philosophy. The community provides a peaceful and industrious home to more than 230 people, around 100 of whom are adults with learning disabilities. Many people who live there, live in shared family-style homes together with co-workers; others are supported in shared accommodation with friends or live independently, all with the aim of enabling a meaningful way of life, everyone being valued as individuals as well as for what they can contribute.

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Kintsugi

A Camphill Grange village beaker repaired using the kintsugi technique
On the 10th October we were very pleased to welcome Iku Nishikawa to our Oxford store for a half day demonstration of kintsugi - the centuries old-Japanese technique for repairing broken ceramics.

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The Westmorland rake makers

Outside the red sandstone workshop at Rudd's Rakes in Dufton, Cumbria.
We recently visited the home of Rudd’s rakes in Dufton, Cumbria, where the Rudd family have been manufacturing wooden farm, industrial, and horticultural rakes since at least the 1890s. Now run by father and son John and Graeme Rudd, the Dufton workshop was founded by John’s grandfather, and is still housed in its original red sandstone building - an ancient barn-like structure dating back to 1632.

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Objects of Use at Compton Verney

The Arts and Crafts House, exhibition catalogue
Objects of Use are delighted to have been approached by Compton Verney to curate part of its exhibition The Arts and Crafts House – Then and Now, which opened 27th June running through until 13 September 2015. The exhibition traces the origins, legacy and enduring appeal of the historic Arts and Crafts Movement and its fascination with the creation of the home.

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Tea and suzuri

Mami Harada's sign and stamp
On the evening of Monday 9th February 2015 in our Oxford store we were very pleased to play host to a Wazuka tea tasting with Chayou Tea and Etsuyo Okajima alongside a suzuri (ink-stone) and Japanese calligraphy demonstration by the wonderful Mami Harada. A pleasant and informative evening was we hope enjoyed by all.

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Welcome to Nottingham

Fitting out our new store on Nottingham's Broad street.
We've been very busy just lately planning and fitting our latest Objects of Use. We're proud to be setting up alongside Aesop and Freitag within the brand new Rough Trade in Nottingham - their first UK store outside London, and as much a venue as a shop, with a rolling program of performance, events, and happenings planned by and drawn from the diverse interests and expertise of all the interested partners. Over several weeks, we have slowly transformed a stack of rough but beautiful ash and walnut boards into the furniture on which we'll display our wares.

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Winter baubles

Winter baubles
For a short time (that is until they run out) we'll be selling a very limited number of these glass winter baubles from both our Oxford and Nottingham stores. Handmade in Germany, by the makers of our clear and coloured glass birds and baubles these are both unique in pattern and remarkable in their manufacture.

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Seasoning steel pans

The Objects of Use guide to seasoning deBuyer steel frying pans.
It seems this has become something of a lost art as it is perhaps the advice we are asked for more than any other, and the source of greatest confusion; but it is something our ancestors must certainly have taken for granted, the kind of knowledge so ingrained in daily life that it is lost even before we realise what has been forgotten.

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At the Vitrahaus

We're very pleased that Objects of Use is at the VitraHaus, or at least many of our products are.
We're very proud to have a selection of our products form part of a year-long exhibition at the VitraHaus in Switzerland.

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hello, world

Products page
Well we've been beavering away since mid January but it's finally here, or hereabouts - OoU mark IV. We hope we've listened to some of your feedback and improved things where we can without losing the existing feel of the site. Obviously we can still learn so any constructive comments are to be welcomed, but in the meantime we hope you like it, and enjoy having a good look around.

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Yukari

YUKARI flyer
On the evening of 8th November 2013 Objects of Use was pleased to play host to the opening of an exhibition of Japanese woodworking and handicraft «YUKARI»

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Cycling to work

The OoU bike
Since September we've been cycling to work on the OoU bike. The OoU is a Moulton TSR, a hand-built wonder with a complex separable space frame reminiscent of Brian Johnson's Eagle Transporter (and some would argue of the same era) - an admittedly quirky but undoubtedly brilliant, and beautiful, piece of British engineering.

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Japanese brooms

Edo brooms
Very occasionally something not only useful but genuinely remarkable arrives, something that stands out as much as a cultural artefact as an object of use, that provokes thoughts of a world re-made differently, of other ways of being.

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