Monday, December 10, 2012

Featured Artist: Mika Otani and Her Floral Art That Challenges Gravity






Hello, dear friends, today we have the pleasure to introduce to you a lady which work we have been admiring in the last two years. Her name is Mika Otani, she is from Japan and her floral arrangements challenge gravity. We met her virtually in the Ikebana Passion Group and were astonished by her creations with grass or simple branches. 

Like this one:



Mika Otani is one of those multifaceted persons that have many artistic talents and abilities. She is an Ikebana artist and certified Ikebana instructor from the Sogetsu School, one of the top schools in this area in Japan. She had a career as a female magazine editor and now she is also a writer and interior and table stylist. We have asked Mika and she agreed to answer a few questions about Ikebana, the traditional Japanese floral art. We love her graceful and elegant arrangements and enjoy very much her innovative style: some of them incorporate objects different than flowers or metal objects created by herself. 
Mika was so kind to share with us some holiday floral arrangement tips that you will see below. Here are some questions that Mika has answered for us:
For the newcomers, could you please explain in a few words what is Ikebana and how does it relate to the contemporary home?

Ikebana is the traditional Japanese flower arrangement style, aiming to put your heart into your creation and expressing your thoughts through live plant materials. Ikebana is completely different from the European flower arrangement. Due to the national isolation policy which had continued for more than 250 years, the uniqueness and originality of Ikebana developed without influences from other countries.

Ikebana had been one of the social graces to be acquired by women in early 20th century. Of course recently women can learn many kind of hobbies, for example dance, painting, foreign language, and so on, including western flower arrangement, but to put flower arrangement at home is regarded as cultivated and respectable thing, influenced by the early 20th century conception.





Could you give us an example of ikebana arrangement for the winter holidays? 

On New Years' Holidays, we decorate the outside entrance of home with New Year’s decoration. Though those shape and styles have a lot of variation in these days, people like using rice-straw and pine tree in them. In traditional way, the sacred rice-straw ropes are hung across the top of the gateway, which is also decorated with pine boughs or gate pines. 

Pine tree is regarded as sacred and lucky fortune stuff because they have vivid beautiful green even in cold winter. As those traditional custom influences New Year’s Ikebana arrangement deeply, we love using pine tree also in the flower arrangement at home. Once people see pine trees, they can feel the New Year’s Eve atmosphere. Decorative Japanese cord made from twisted paper named Mizuhiki is also considered a very lucky fortune item.

You teach Ikebana and do also styling for different events. On your blog you say that Christmas and winter holidays are much more than red. Which colors and combinations would you suggest to be used for the holiday events and decorations?
My favorite colors for New Year’s arrangement are red, gold, and silver. Red is super, but common, so sometimes using other colors is fun. Sometimes I use fewer red and more black in replacement of red.
With Mizuhiki a normal winter arrangement turnes into a special New Year’s arrangement


We hope that you enjoyed our blog today. If you want to know more about Mika Otani and see more floral arrangements of hers, you can visit her Atelier Soka and her Ikebana gallery on facebook.  She also has a blog in Japanese. 
Mizuhiki is a Japanese art that uses a special rice paper cord


Ciao, cari amici, oggi abbiamo il piacere di presentarvi un'artista il cui lavoro abbiamo ammirato negli ultimi due anni. Il suo nome è Mika Otani, è giapponese, e le sue creazioni sfidano la gravità. Mika Otani è una di quelle persone poliedriche che hanno molti talenti artistici. Lei è un'artista Ikebana ed insegna Ikebana della Scuola Sogetsu, una delle migliori scuole in Giappone. E' stata per molti anni redattrice di una rivista femminile, ma è anche una scrittrice e stilista d'interni. Ci piacciono i suoi allestimenti floreali graziosi ed eleganti, nonché il suo stile innovativo. Mika è stata così gentile a condividere con noi alcuni consigli sulla decorazione della casa per le feste natalizie e gli allestimenti floreali giapponesi. 
Che cosa è Ikebana e come questa arte si collega  alla casa contemporanea?
Ikebana è l'arte tradizionale giapponese di composizione floreale che è completamente diversa da quella europea. A causa della politica di isolamento nazionale che aveva continuato per più di 250 anni, l'unicità e l'originalità di Ikebana si sviluppò senza influenze di altri paesi. L'Ikebana era stata una delle arti da acquisire da parte delle donne, è considerata da sempre un'arte raffinata e rispettabile.






Che tipo di decorazione si fa in Giappone per il Capodanno?
Normalmente si decora l'ingresso esterno della casa, tradizionalmente con paglia di riso e ramoscelli di pino. Esse sono considerate piante sacre, portano fortuna e si usano anche per gli allestimenti all'interno della casa. I miei colori preferiti per le decorazioni di Capodanno sono di colore rosso, oro e argento. Il rosso è bellissimo, ma talvolta tende ad essere comune ed è più divertente usare altri colori. A volte uso meno rosso e molto nero in sostituzione del rosso.
Speriamo che il nostro blog oggi vi sia piaciuto. Se volete sapere di più su Mika Otani, vi invitiamo a visitare il suo Atelier Soka e la sua galleria di allestimenti floreali su facebook. Mika ha anche un blog in giapponese.

Images: courtesy of Mika Otani 

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