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Textured Glass jug and tumblers by Jochen Holz. Photography by Joanna Henderson.
16th March 2017

Picking and choosing: Q&A with Momosan Shop’s Momoko Mizutani

Back in November, while everyone was still all excited about Tate Modern’s recent Switch House expansion, Zetteler’s favourite art gallery did something really quite unexpected: it opened a design shop.
Tucked away on Level 1 of the Boiler House, like a secret treasure chamber, Tate Edit is, in the words of merchandise director Rosey Blackmore, ‘a shop that has art at its heart but also represents the Tate Modern aesthetic of industrial beauty, offering functional objects that embody Tate style.’

Tiny Pots by Yuta Segawa will feature in the Momoko Mizutani Tate Edit. Photography by Joanna Henderson.
The sleek industrial-minimalist space that resulted now houses a considered selection of around 200 pieces for sale, including artist-designed works, classics of design history, limited-edition artworks, and even the cutlery, tableware and furniture that is used every day by the museum itself. Many of the pieces are chosen by the Tate team – things that they have found and fallen in love with – but around a fifth of the collection is the exclusive realm of an invited guest editor, who has virtually free rein to stock the shop’s shelves with objects they adore.
The first editor was industrial-design titan Jasper Morrison, who also had a hand in the shop’s design (alongside Switch House architects Herzog & de Meuron). His edit has been on sale for five months, but now there’s a new sheriff in town: Momoko Mizutani, Japan-born founder of Momosan Shop – rising star of the Hackney retail scene.
Tate Edit with Jasper Morrison's items on display.
Mizutani opened her store three years ago on Wilton Way, north of London Fields, following her two-year stint running a shop in Shoreditch. Momosan Shop aims to bring beautiful, functional, crafted objects from makers in Japan, the UK and around the world to the London audience. It’s the kind of quietly beautiful place where every item both has a purpose and tells a story. In fact, it’s probably not too outlandish to suggest that Mizutani seeks out objects with souls.
Now, Tate Edit has fallen under the Momosan spell, inviting Mizutani to become the second in its ongoing roster of guest editors and, on 28 April, she’ll be revealing her selection in store. Her picks include small-studio glassware, ceramics and lacquerware, alongside established hits such as Martino Gamper stools and Momosan Shop’s new range of own-label collaborative works.
She told us how she got here…
Ceramic vases by Mizuyo Yamashita. Photography by Joanna Henderson.
How did you first start out in retail, and what led you to found Momosan Shop?

I found it difficult to find really special gifts when I was looking for them. Also, there were not many shops selling authentic Japanese products at the time. There are so many pottery shops in Japan where you can find the work of up-and-coming potters for a reasonable price, but when I tried to find that sort of thing in London, it was quite difficult. I wanted to build a place where you can find unique and special pieces created by skilled craftsmen/women.
What attracts you to a particular object?

First and foremost: originality. Something that cannot be replicated without the skilled hand of a trained craftsman/woman. Something which reflects the personality of the maker, that speaks to me, that makes me smile.
How did you come to curate for Tate Edit?

Through my career, I have discovered some incredibly talented people all over the world. When Tate approached me to be a guest editor for their new space, I saw this as a great opportunity to showcase some of the makers and designers I have had the privilege to have met and collaborated with.
What excites you about the Tate Edit concept? 

I find museum and gallery shops really interesting retail spaces. I am excited because Tate Edit offers a continuity between the works of art in the exhibition space and the works of art in the retail space.
Miya of Kamasada's Cast Iron Bottle Openers. Photography by Joanna Henderson.
Did you apply different selection criteria to Tate Edit than you normally do for Momosan Shop?

I already have quite a diverse range of customer profiles in my own shop in Hackney and I hope that the products I believe in will appeal to everyone who passes through the Tate, whether that is through their functionality or craftsmanship.
Are there any objects that you’re particularly excited about sharing at Tate Edit?

The hand-blown glass collections by Jochen Holz never fail to surprise me with their beauty. One of my favourite finds in the last year was the miniaturised pottery of Yuta Segawa and I am also really excited about presenting the collaborative pieces Momosan Shop has developed with the potter Mizuyo Yamashita.
Brass Bottle Openers and Solid brass trivets by Masanori Oji for Futagami. Photography by Joanna Henderson.
What is your personal objective, as a curator and retailer?

I would like to host more exhibitions featuring new talent.
What’s your favourite things about London?

The people. There is a great deal of talent in this city. I constantly meet interesting people through the shop. Sometimes, it develops into a friendship; sometimes, it leads to a collaboration.
Where Have All The Months Gone? (Campai) from Åbäke. Photography by Joanna Henderson.
The Momosan Shop edit launches at Tate Edit on 28th April.
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