Fun, functional ceramics Sunart Co., Ltd.

Website: Sunart Co., Ltd.External site: a new window will open
Category: Japanese Design & Daily goods

Double-duty dishes

In the heart of Seto-one of Japan's "Six Ancient Kilns," famous for ceramics and overflowing with pottery shops-is a workshop that's not like the others. At Sunart Co., Ltd., a plate is not just a plate. Sunart works under a different concept, where everyday objects are fun, whimsical works of art. Founder and President Takeru Terada and his son, Senior Managing Director Hitoshi Terada, believe household items shouldn't spend their downtime in a dark cupboard but instead be on display, doubling as interior decorations. And so Sunart has, since its founding in 1974, worked to combine fun and fancy with utility, creating an ever-expanding roster of everything from dishes and earthenware pots to toilet-brush holders, piggybanks and more.


Sunart Senior Managing Director Hitoshi Terada


Einstein plate for food art

Against the grain

From the beginning, Sunart has taken the road less travelled. In the 1990s, they created a toothbrush holder for two, aiming to catch the eye of newlyweds and going against the industry wisdom that said only family-sized holders would sell. The gamble paid off, as have many others-chocolate fondue sets shaped like toilets, Father's Day ashtrays with lung disease statistics printed on them, and dishes printed with images of celebrities waiting for spaghetti or fried-rice hairstyles.

Stacking success

One of Sunart's most popular items abroad thus far is its line of stacking tea sets. A giraffe-body teapot gives way to teacups for a neck and a lid for a head, while a Russian matryoshka doll is crafted out of a teapot playing the lower body and two teacups-one nested inside the other-playing the upper body. Japanese kokeshi dolls, the Musicians of Bremen and so on, the list of characters-turned-tea-sets is vast. And it's not just the concept that's ingenious; the sets have to be made to very precise measurements to keep them steady on their bases. Fine craftsmanship is required from the surface design down to the base structure.


The Musicians of Bremen stacking tea set

Magic Kingdom Cups

In addition to its own creations, Sunart has a licensing agreement with Disney. Many of its original styles are thus available with Mickey and Minnie, and various princesses and characters from films like Toy Story and Star Wars, filling in for its own designs. The characters from Frozen are in the lineup, too, which is sure to delight the younger set. These goods aren't available at Disney stores or resorts but rather only through Sunart and its distributors.


Sunart's booth at the Tokyo International Gift Show

Spreading whimsy

Sunart has already begun to delight the world, with its creations available in several Asian countries as well as Italy, Australia and the U.S. Going forward, it would like to focus more on the U.S. as well as Europe. With several hundred visitors to its booth at the Tokyo International Gift Show, and exhibitions across Asia in the works, it won't be long before Sunart's fun and function makes its way to every corner of the world.

Website: Sunart Co., Ltd.External site: a new window will open