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Mikasa “Life Style” – ’90s Postmodernism by John Bergen

This very smart design from producer Mikasa is from the Postmodern era and is by Canadian Designer and Potter, John Bergen who was active in the 1980s and 1990s. It is called “Life Style”. Studying the design you will see influences of Memphis Design, Art Deco, Modernism and Pop Art – all of which sum up the style of the 1990s very well. 

The predominant colour of the pattern is a semi matte teal green with blue violet and beige accents on a slightly off white base gloss. There are some lovely textures and subtleties in the colours as well. It was in production 1992-1996.

Until recently I never knew about this design, but I discovered a whole dinner-set of it recently and wanted to find out more. I was taken with the well resolved and bold design and how it fitted each shape or form really well. 

Mikasa "Life Style" Mug and Plate, Design John Bergen

Mikasa “Life Style” Mug and Plate, Design John Bergen

Mikasa "Life Style" Salad Bowl - Design John Bergen

Mikasa “Life Style” Salad Bowl – Design John Bergen

Mikasa "Life Style" Lidded Butter Dish -Design John Bergen

Mikasa “Life Style” Lidded Butter Dish -Design John Bergen

Mikasa "Life Style" Large Platter -Design John Bergen

Mikasa “Life Style” Large Platter -Design John Bergen

Mikasa "Life Style" Wide Rim Bowls, Design John Bergen

Mikasa “Life Style” Wide Rim Bowls, Design John Bergen

Mikasa "Life Style" Coffee Pot, Design John Bergen

Mikasa “Life Style” Coffee Pot, Design John Bergen

Mikasa "Life Style" Coffee Mug l - Design John Bergen

Mikasa “Life Style” Coffee Mug – Design John Bergen

Mikasa "Life Style" Tea Cup - Design John Bergen

Mikasa “Life Style” Tea Cup – Design John Bergen

Mikasa "Life Style" Tea Cup - Design John Bergen

Mikasa “Life Style” Tea Cup – Design John Bergen

Mikasa "Life Style" Tea Cup - Design John Bergen

Mikasa “Life Style” Tea Cup – Design John Bergen

The design is one of the many very smart Intaglio series produced by Mikasa – Intaglio signifies it is from Mikasa’s commercial stoneware production – very tough and hard wearing durable ceramic (which other well known series like “Arabella” are also made from)

In researching to find out more about this designer, I found the information of in, of all places, The Bakers Journal of Canada which where I found the following information:

Bergen, who had never worked in a bakery or a restaurant prior to opening the City Café Bakery, trained as a designer at the Ontario College of Art & Design. He had a small ceramics factory with three or four employees for about 20 years, first in Toronto and then in downtown Kitchener.

I was designing dinnerware for Mikasa and supplying them with ceramic vases, but then in the spring of 1999 we realized the future wasn’t there anymore,” he says. “So I closed [the factory] down and six weeks later it was all done. And at that point I had no idea what to do with my life.”Direction came from Rudy Dorner, Bergen’s advisor for the ceramics business (and one of the City Café’s partners). ……Dorner suggested doing something in that area. And so, the City Café Bakery was born.

The design also came in a black glossy version: 

Mikasa Life Style Black - John Bergen

Mikasa Life Style Black – John Bergen

You can read more about the history of Mikasa on their website HERE

Researching John’s “Life Style” design led me to also finding some really striking studio pieces from John Bergen Studios.

John Bergen Studio Piece- Via Ebay

John Bergen Studio Piece- Via Ebay

John Bergen Studio Piece- Via Ebay

John Bergen Studio Piece- Via Ebay

John Bergen Studio Piece- Via Ebay

John Bergen Studio Piece- Via Ebay

From what I can see by searching the net, the Cafe which John started up is still in operation, and John Bergen still appears to be there. Interesting to also read how the Cafe operates on an honour system in the article in the Bakers Journal linked above or by going to the cafe website HERE. 

There are a number of pieces of the Mikasa Life Style design currently for sale in my Etsy store HERE

 

Figgjo Tor Viking

This very attractive pattern stands out as another very attractive design by Turi Gramstad Oliver.

I love the colours of Tor Viking with its pacific deep blue, olive green, aquamarine and bright white all combining so well in this pattern.

Tor Viking was in production from 1973-1983. The design was placed on a full range of Figgjo forms which were used on other sets and forms used between 1959 and 1973 – so you will find a huge number of different pieces made in this pattern. You will also find many iterations of the design on the same shapes. 

I read some time ago that the design was inspired by the travels of Thor Heyerdahl and his travels in the pacific ocean on “Kon Tiki” – but I cant find this link documented anywhere now. The colours and motifs in the pattern are definitely those of the pacific ocean and islands though. 

I have a number of pieces of Tor Viking for sale in my online store currently – link in the right had column. 

Figgjo Tor Viking Full Condiment Set on Original Wooden Tray – Turi Gramstad Oliver

Figgjo Tor Viking – Condiment-Cruet Set of Salt, Pepper and Mustard on Original Wooden Tray

 

Figgjo Tor Viking Saucepan

Figgjo Tor Viking Lidded Sugar Bowl

Figgjo Tor Viking Rectangular Plate

Figgjo Tor Viking – Platter or Rectangular Main Course Plate

Figgjo Tor Viking – Square Butter Box

Figgjo Tor Viking – Teapot

Figgjo Tor Viking – Tea Trio

Figgjo Tor Viking Plate

Figgjo Tor Viking – lidded casserole

Figgjo Tor Viking – Skillet Pan

Figgjo Tor Viking – Large (1 litre) Milk or Water Jug

 

Figgjo Tor Viking – large sandwich board

Figgjo Tor Viking – Lidded Serving Tureen

 

 

 

Denby Arabesque – Some Rarer Items

My post from some years ago about Gill Pemberton and her Arabesque series for Denby c1962 continues to be one of the most read articles on this site. Link here

Recently I got hold of a whole lot of wonderful Denby Arabesque (or Denby Samarkand if you are in the USA). Amongst it were some pieces I haven’t seen in person before, and which seem to be very hard to find these days. 

First is the large mug – often referred to as a “Grandmug” because of its size which is around 14cm tall x 7.5cm diameter with a capacity of 350ml. By todays standards this is probably a normal sized mug – but by the standards of the 1960s when this was released, very large. 

 

Denby Arabesque Large Mug

Denby Arabesque Large Mug

Denby Arabesque Large Mug and Small Coffee Mug

Denby Arabesque Large Mug and Small Coffee Mug Side by Side

Denby Arabesque Large Mug

Denby Arabesque Large Mug

Then there is the large Hors D’Oeuvre rectangular dish – which was part of a set with 4-6 smaller rectangular dishes – and often originally sold with a teak tray. 

Denby Arabesque Hors D'Oeuvre Dish

Denby Arabesque Hors D’Oeuvre Dish – Large Size

The Celery Dish – is a much coveted item (sorry it is now SOLD), and because of its impressive angular boat shape form, it is a perfect centrepiece dish for a table or console table these days.  The same Celery Dish form is also a very popular item from the Chevron series, again designed by Gill Pemberton.

Denby Arabesque Celery Dish

Denby Arabesque Celery Dish

 

Denby Arabesque Celery Dish

Denby Arabesque Celery Dish

There is quite a wide selection of Arabesque items now for sale in my Etsy store HERE (or from the link in the right hand column). While not a rare item, one of my favourites is this large serving platter, because it shows off the pattern so well.

Denby Arabesque Platter

Denby Arabesque Platter

During the week also I discovered a Denby Arabesque piece posted on Instagram which I never knew existed – an Ice Bucket!. It seems to be very rare (and it was sold very quickly as far as I can see). Photo courtesy of The China Village UK 

Denby Arabesque Ice Bucket – Photo via The China Village UK