To breath life into molten glass, Shotoku Glass, founded in 1922, began life as a light bulb manufacturer. Following automation, the exquisite craftsmanship of hand blown glass was applied to glassware.
In May 2022, CIBI Creative Director, Zenta Tanaka returned to Tokyo following a two and half year absence. Zenta sits down with Shotoku Glass Creative Director Yoshifumi Saito to discuss the creative process, collaboration and the desire to create and share glassware for our CIBI Melbourne community.
Q 1 Why do you think Shotoku Glass is loved both within Japan and Australia? What makes it so unique?
A 1 Shotoku Glass products are simply designed but filled with beauties of functionalism and beauties of form. Our products are not only beautiful, but also they can be used daily. I think that is why our products are loved and widely accepted in the world.
Q 2 Zenta’s concept for the CIBI Everyday Glass was guided by the key words ‘family’ and ‘joy’. Is this design process, beginning with a concept similar to the way Shotoku Glass approaches design?
A 2 As I mentioned earlier, our designs focus on ' 'functional beauty’'and `beauties of form” and I think CIBI Everyday Glass matches both of these concepts as it emphasises ‘family’, 'everyday', 'practical' and 'universal'.
Q 3 How would you like people to enjoy Shotoku glass and how would you like people to think of the meaning of using Shotoku glass ?
A 3 We think that our glasses are a tool for daily life, so we want people to use them on a daily basis, to not just display them as beautiful ornaments.
Q 4 What is the process in making the shotoku glass - from designing, sourcing, manufacturing?
A 4 The manufacturing process can be divided into seven different steps. These steps include melting, forming (blowing), de-cooling, fire cutting, scraping, cleaning, tempering and pre-delivery inspection.
We plan our products based on hints from uses, drinks and situations. We value the "needs" in everyday life, such as when we think "I wish I had a glass like this", so we sometimes ask our staff members to come up with product ideas.
Q 5 If glassware is damaged during the manufacturing process can this be reused, by transforming back into molten glass?
A 5 We use only one type of raw material so damaged products from the production process are re-melted and used again.
Q 6 The word tradition carries with it knowledge, craftsmanship and expertise, how are these qualities maintained across generations of Shotoku Glass manufacturing?
A 6 There are seven teams for each of the seven manufacturing processes, and they are responsible for the training of their successors within the teams. They have set milestones according to the level of work, and have created a system that allows the team members to step up along with their skill level.
Q 7 What message would you like to share with Australian CIBI customer?
A 7 As you can see, all the staff members work together every day to make our products. Please try a sip and feel the deliciousness of drinking from our glass. And I would like to say thank you to everyone who has always used our products. We will continue to work hard to make the best glasses.
Q 8 What are the challenges / difficulties in creating beautiful glassware?
A 8 Every single step in the manufacturing processes is important and difficult, and nothing is easy. I believe that if each process does not mesh well together, it cannot be labelled as Shoutoku Glass. It is challenging to maintain that balance and the quality of daily production.
Q 9 How many artisans are involved in the process of making?
A 9 Of all the 36 staff members, 28 artisans are involved in the glass production.