This took place a few weeks ago in Paris, the Unesco had an event organized around sake which is a central part of the Japanese culture and also around the traditional Japanese cups used to drink sake : the guinomi.
There were three heroes of the evening, first the Japanese departing Ambassador at the Unesco, Mr Kenjiro Monji (pictured on left with special sommelière from Daishichi), who was to be appointed soon as the Japan Ambassador to Canada, in this context this restricted-access event was meant to be festive as well as cultural, like some sort of farewell party to Paris, diplomatic colleagues and friends.
The other hero was the Japanese artist Mrs Junko Kiritani, a Tokyo-based ceramist who had designed a few dozens guinomis just for this event. In Japan there's a deep-rooted relation with food/drink, tableware and other traditional vessels, we are now familiar in the West with the delicate and fragile-lookig cups and ceramics that keep been created in Japan in a tight connection between modernity and tradition.
The third hero was the group of sake exhibitors to this event, several having come specially from Japan :
Born (Katoukichibee Shoten, Born CEO pictured above), Daishichi, Kenbishi, Dassai (Asahi shuzo), Kamoshibito Kuheiji, Chiyomusubi Bihappo, Dewazakura Aiyama, Azumaichi, Kinoene Kyuko, Yamahida (Kawashiri shuzo), Kinmon Akita, Kokuryu, Miyasaka, Nakao, Ninki, Nishida, Sohomare, Sudohonke, Tatenokawa, Yucho shuzo.
The event took place at the Unesco bar in an upper story of the Unesco building in the 7th arrondissement.
Mrs Kiritani's work has been centered on vessels used to eat and drink, not only for the esthetics and fabric of the objects, but for their daily use, and from 1996 she began now and then to make exhibitions where her dishes or cups were actually also used by the visitors so that a physical experience could ensue. These direct experiences with works of art which are called Sankakei Kukan in Japanese were repeated since then in Japan and abroad. She got the idea when in 1995 she took part to the Zakkiten exhibition centered on ceramics, she realized that Art was rooted in things of the daily life like eating and drinking and that there is an exchange through the use of the objects between the user and the creator.
From then on Junko Kiritani who until then was just making (so to say) work of of art made the step to make vessels that would be designed for their actual daily use. She began a serie named "Now, a tableware for the earliest age" where interactivity was an important part of the event and where cups for example could be played with by a toddler. She says that once she gave a collection of her creations to a [Japanese] school and a child came back home asking his parents the same type of cup to use every day at home...
A few of her works on this page as well as on her webpage.
I was on assignment for this event but I ended drinking sake at one point, I didn't take notes but had great sake that evening, it is too bad the event lasted only two hours.