Natsumi Noda, who "adds stories, emotions, impressions of being there, and a sense of temperature," explains the concept and motifs of her work.

We are pleased to present an interview with Natsumi Noda, an artist who creates ceramic works.
People and food are deeply involved in the origin of Ms. Noda's production.
How were her works born, and how are they changing?
We would like to talk to you in three parts, one for each theme.

In this second installment, we will ask in detail about the concepts and motifs of the two lines "Natsumi Noda" and "Imustan".

You can read the first installment below.

First part of Interview: Natsumi Noda talks about the process of creating her artwork: "Communication with people at the dining place is the starting point of my work."



"It's like a story, or the emotions of the people at that time,

I hope to include a story, the feelings of the person at the time, the impression of being there, and a sense of temperature.

I'm making them with that in mind."


What is the concept behind the two lines "Natsumi Noda" and "Imustan"?

- Could you tell us about the concept behind each of the two lines?
There are two lines, but the original concept or what we are thinking about is the same, and they are derived from it.
I grew up in a small *Shitamachi (traditional downtown) culture where everyone was close, and when there was a festival, everyone would go together to carry the mikoshi (portable shrine). 
Since I was a child, I spent my days in such a gathering of people in what is called a Shitamachi area(traditional downtown area), and I really like people.
I also had experiences with people who were particular about food at meals when I was a university student, and communication was born from these experiences.
I wanted to make tableware that would be related to that, and that is how I started the current series of plates.
*"Shitamachi culture" represents Japan's traditional urban life, prevalent in Tokyo's older, working-class neighborhoods. It's like exploring an untouched corner of an old city, filled with narrow lanes, local vendors, modest eateries, and a strong sense of community. Festivals keep ancient traditions alive, and the affordable street food like sushi and soba noodles adds to its charm. Shitamachi is a living time capsule, offering a nostalgic glimpse into Japan's past amidst its modern cities.
- You like people, and the concept of communicating with people through food is common to both brands, isn't it?

Yes. Right after I graduated from the university, what I was making was the same as what I do now, but I called it "Neo-Gohan" as a concept.
For example, when everyone eats together, I would first show a plate to the cook and ask him or her to make whatever comes to mind when he or she sees the plate. Then everyone eats the resulting dish on that plate, and it would be nice if the event was remembered, like "I ate on that plate. It's tableware as an opportunity for communication.


"It could be a movie or music that I like,

I'm replacing all the images of the people in them with plants,

I try to express people's feelings by borrowing the form of plants. 

I tried to express people's feelings and emotions by borrowing the form of plants,

That was my first idea, and it hasn't changed."


How do you create the motifs for your "Natsumi Noda" line?

ー Can you tell us specifically about the motifs of the "Natsumi Noda" line?
Noda's are often seen as flower patterns, but I don't really see them as flowers, because if I am aware of them as "patterns," I cannot expand them, or I get bored with them.
I think plants and flowers are similar to people. There are many different kinds, they move around, they have different colors, and they vary from region to region. I think that plants, which have no distinctive flowers, are somehow like people.
Especially for the platters, I have replaced all the images of my favorite movies and music, and the people in them, and the people involved, with plants. My initial idea was to express people's emotions by borrowing the form of plants, and this has not changed.
I do not disclose what kind of movies or music I used as references, but I have decided on my own themes and colors for each plate.
The smaller plates are based on events that are a little more familiar to me, things that I enjoyed. I think of events and replace them with my own ideas, and I paint the plates while remembering what they remind me of.
I paint while remembering events as well as my favorite movies, so it is not a portrait of me, but I think of it as a process of memorizing things for myself.
ー Is it a process of rearranging the events in your memory on a plate like this?

Yes, I do. I decided on the plants and motifs to be used for each of them, and for example, such a person could be replaced by this plant. I'll put them in a position where it looks like they're dancing, and so on.

ー It is true that the arrangement of those plants is very organic, or rather, I don't see any rules. I had the feeling that if I thought of it as a normal pattern, it wouldn't look like this, which makes sense.
Yes, I do. I am making the works while thinking that I would like to include a story, the emotions of the people at that time, the impressions of being there, and a sense of temperature.
ー What sources of inspiration do you draw from for your botanical motifs?

Sometimes I make sketches of plants directly and adopt them from there, but sometimes I get them from plants drawn on old Indian or Balinese fabrics such as batik.
I try not to draw the same plants by breaking them down into their parts and reconstructing them in my mind.



"Hands are as much a part of a person as the face.

I feel that the hands are a part of the body that can instinctively express a person's emotions,

I love the fact that even a casual movement can give a glimpse of latent feelings,

I chose the hand as a motif."


How do you come up with the motifs for the "Imustan" line?

ー I heard earlier that the original idea for both "Natsumi Noda" and "Imustan" is the same. Under the name of "Imustan", your theme is "possibly possible, maybe even somewhat suspicious".
Could you tell us how the concept was born?
The name "Imustan" is just the Romanization of the word "natsumi," but "Imustan" sounds like a country name, and the concept of a fictitious country was born.
When we thought of it as a country, we decided to make it a country where we could use things like beams coming out of our hands. This is how we came up with the first concept of Imustan, which is a "maybe it could be possible".
We thought it would be okay if something a little mismatched happened. We are trying to create a setting in a country where such things are possible.
If you want to eat a cake, just take it out of your hand. It's like that. lol
ー There are many hand motifs.
There are many. This is partly because I simply love hands.
I feel that hands are a part of a person's body that can instinctively express their feelings as easily as the face, and I love the fact that even casual movements can reveal latent feelings, so I choose hands as a motif.
It is not common to see hands drawn on mugs, and they are not slender hands, but rather a little whip-like. I was originally influenced by the expression of hands in ukiyoe prints, such as shunga, which I thought was very good. They are a bit warped like this.
ー How do you decide which side of a mug to use, whether it is a hand, a plant, a food item, or a familiar event?
For the front and back of the mug, I draw my favorite image or motif that interests me.
For example, the tiger is an image that I am very interested in, so I think a lot about tigers, and I also think about butter in picture books. It's not an association game for me, but it happened in my country, so I think about it quite freely. 
In Noda Natsumi's work, I create the scene by looking at the scene from a pull, but in Imstan, I am inside the scene and enjoying the same situation, so it is an experiential type of work.
As a scene, there is a difference between "Natsumi Noda" being objective and "Imstan" having myself inside. It's just a feeling.
ー I heard that you don't make the same pattern.
Yes, I do. I think about each piece as I create it, so even if I use the same design, I use different colors and combinations. I think the person who buys the item probably thinks "this is what I want," so I don't like it if there are several identical pieces.
When I buy something, I also choose something that is one of a kind, or something that is slightly different from the others! I would like to value that kind of thing.

ー Knowing the concept makes it more enjoyable to pick up your work. Next, please tell us about your production and future plans.


→Continue to next time. Next time, "Ceramic art is very close to people. Being able to touch and use ceramics is very appealing." Natsumi Noda on her production process and future plans



>> Natsumi Noda/Imustan works