Takaoka City in Toyama Prefecture – where Takaoka copperware, a traditional craft since the Edo period, is produced – is home to all kinds of metalworking techniques, including mold making, casting, finishing, coloring, and engraving. Momentum Factory Orii is one of the companies which operates in this sector, and has been involved in the coloring of Takaoka copperware. The mystical colors created by its own unique techniques have attracted many people.
Developing Original Products to Break Free from Subcontracting
Takaoka copperware is said to be "a craft that appreciates rust”. The expression of the copperware is determined by a process called "coloring", which creates a chemical reaction on the surface of the newly born copper to produce a unique texture and color.
Orii Coloring Studio, the predecessor of Momentum Factory Orii, was established in 1950 as a workshop specialized in coloring. Since then, it has been involved in the coloring of various cast products such as Buddhist statues, bronze statues, tea utensils, and works of art, using the casting technology of Takaoka.
The workshop prospered as the center of the Takaoka copperware industry until the bubble economy in the early 1990s, after which sales rapidly declined. In order to save the business from the crisis of survival, Koji Orii, the heir as the third generation of the workshop, was chosen.
At the time, Orii was living a rewarding life in Tokyo working in the IT industry, but after much consideration, he decided to return to Takaoka, at the age of 26, to take over the family business. There, he was once again confronted with the harsh reality of rapidly declining sales.
The previous generation had mainly colored ornaments and commemorative items ordered by wholesalers. However, by the time Orii returned to his hometown, the number of such jobs was dwindling because the demand for traditional copperware was decreasing due to changing lifestyles.
If you try to sell something that your customers don't want, it won't sell. Orii decided to create copper products that he wanted and that people wanted.
After several years of trial and error, he came up with a unique technique of coloring a copper plate less than 1mm thick. Through this, he succeeded in creating a new demand for daily necessities and interior design.
In 2008, the workshop name was changed to "Momentum Factory Orii". Momentum means "impetus or momentum", and by adapting the coloring techniques of Takaoka copperware to modern lifestyles, the studio has, as its name suggests, gained momentum for a great leap forward. Through exhibitions in Tokyo and abroad, Orii has created a strong fan base.
One-of-a-kind colors that Orii creates
Copper and other metals have as a characteristic the oxidation over time, reacting with oxygen and moisture in the air. Using rice bran or vinegar to artificially corrode the metal and create various colors is a technique that has been handed down from generation to generation in Takaoka copperware.
While inheriting the traditional techniques of boiling, baking, and polishing, Orii has developed these techniques to create colors on thin copper plates, which was previously considered difficult. In order to bring out the true colors of the metal materials, Orii thoroughly researched the materials and techniques and further take on other challenges.
All the work is done by hand by craftsmen, and no two pieces are alike in terms of color and pattern. There is a wide range of color variations, including the "mottled peacock color", the first product created by Orii, which is characterized by complex colors reminiscent of peacock feathers.
Especially popular is the beautiful bronze color called "Orii Blue". It has a mysterious hue reminiscent of space or sea, and is said to be a color that only Orii can produce. The products in this colour show a changing shade when you use them, that is why they are so fascinating.
Infinite possibilities of combination
Orii has further developed its original coloring technique and has entered various fields, including the designing of original products and the development of metal parts and art building materials for use in hotels, restaurants, and public facilities.
When he launched the brand “tone”, which deals with original craft works and wall materials, his simple design products using copper materials became popular and received a great response. In 2017, the decorative panel "ORII MARBLE" won the Good Design Award.
The material, which combines the unique color and the warm and soothing texture of copper, adds color to your life with its quiet presence while blending in with any space.
Recently, the workshop has also entered the fashion field by collaborating with a number of Japanese manufacturing companies to produce suits, dresses, bags, watches, and other items with embedded copper plates. The possibilities are endless, depending on the combination.
Orii continues to boldly take on the challenge of expanding the possibilities of "coloring", the final step in the traditional craft of Takaoka copperware, that you may want to keep an eye on it.
Established in 1950. Applying the traditional coloring technique of Takaoka copperware, the company creates new values of "coloring" with its unique coloring technology. The one and only coloration and texture of the product has won many fans and a large number of admirers. The beautiful bronze color known as "Orii Blue" is especially popular.View the works of "Momentum Factory Orii