Alte Meister is a maker of traditional wooden Buddhist altars and memorial tablets in Fukushima Prefecture.
In spite of its Germanic name, Alte Meister was founded in Japan in the year 1900. Like many of the best Japanese firms, it combines a respect for old ways with the drive for rigorous and bold innovation. They still make their fine, traditional Buddhist items, but they are also actively searching for the “new shapes” that prayer can take. Their altar designs include some very bold and almost ""secular"" designs: it is easy to see them as opportunities to reflect and to gather one's thoughts, as much as items for any conventional form of prayer.
The creation of altars and tablets leaves offcuts and shavings, most of it beautiful wood. Normally, these would be used to heat furnaces that assist the timber-drying process, but Alte Meister devised the Hitotoki (Good Woods) series as a way to make more constructive use of all these special wood offcuts. Hitotoki places special emphasis on keeping the wood natural, from the smell to the colour to the weight of the wood in your hand.
The selection of in London is not exhaustive; there are various other elegant items in the line-up, ranging from stationery items to very refined boxes for incense.
Hitotoki literally means both "people and wood" and "a moment". Hitotoki is a series of products exploring creative and convenient ways to bring wooden objects into our everyday lives, These products offer the user a chance to savour the pleasure of good wood.
The Hitotoki series is the brainchild of Alte Meister, a long-established maker of traditional wooden Buddhist altars and memorial tablets based in Fukushima Prefecture, and the series is notable for using only wood offcuts. Normally, offcuts and shavings are used to heat furnaces that assist the timber-drying process. Hitotoki was devised as a way to make more constructive use of all these beautiful wood offcuts.
The Hitotoki series features a range of stylish, and playful wooden products -- pencils, pencil sharpeners, writing brushes, boxes, blocks and more. All of these products aim to give an everyday jolt of the smell, the feel, the colour, the texture, and the weight of wonderful natural wood.
[re:new tohoku] Alte Meister
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Great products from areas in Japan that were hit hard by the 2011 disaster were featured at Asia House in London in July, 2012. We are eager to identify buyers, designers and other partners who can help us make these products successful in markets outside Japan.