This time we have received something rare.
(Photo: 20cm plate of ARABIA crocus)
This is a plate from the legendary Crocus series from Finland's leading tableware manufacturer ARABIA. It's called gray rim. Crocus is a series that was produced for an extremely short period of two years from 1978 to 1979, but this gray rim was rarely produced for some reason, making it a phantom work. It is one of the so-called collector's items.
ARABIA's masterpiece crocus
The series name crocus is a type of iris flower. Iris flowers originally have whitish-purple flowers. The Crocus series is unique in that the flowers are drawn using only lines. As is often the case with Scandinavian tableware, the pieces are faithfully colored to match the original colors of the flowers. There is something interesting about the fact that what I want to say is left in black and white as a finished product. For more details, please see the past blog article → "Nordic Tableware and In Praise of Shadows"
Three types of crocuses were designed: a black and white version, a color version, and a gray-rimmed version. Of these, the color version only has the edges painted in light green and does not have a picture of crocuses drawn on it. Therefore, there are two types of variations with pictures: a black and white version and a gray rim version.
Rimu is an English word that means "wheel" or "edge." Gray is a dull color, i.e. gray. Since it was made in Finland, I feel like it could be written in Finnish, but the black and white version is also engraved with the initials "BW" (Black and White). In other words, you can see that it was made with overseas export in mind.
(Photo: Crocus Gray Rim backstamp, "GR" below Krokus stands for "Gray Rim", and below that in English it says "Dishwasher safe")
Gray rim unique design
What is not well known is that Crocus Gray Rim has actually created new designs for some of the soup plates and other items.
(Photo: Crocus soup plate with gray rim on the left and black and white version on the right. Flowers and buds are slightly different)
They have the same crocus pattern, but if you look closely, the designs are different. The number of flowers and buds is the same, but the shape of the petals, the way the buds swell, and the position are slightly different.
However, the gray rimmed 20cm plate has the exact same design as the black and white version of the 20cm plate. Also, with plates of other sizes, there may be differences only in the way the buds are drawn. It seems that not all tableware series, including cups and teacups, have been redesigned.
As mentioned above, Crocus was produced for two years from 1978 to 1979, but Gray Rim was probably produced only for a period of time in 1979. I don't know what the production intention was, but it seems that it was created in an attempt to create color variations.
However, because the production of Crocus itself ended in a short period of time, Gray Rim ended up becoming a phantom work that was hardly ever produced.
Changes in ARABIA factory structure and discontinuation of production
Crocus was manufactured for a short period of two years, but I get the impression that black and white and color versions are still widely distributed in the vintage market. If it is a truly fantastic work, I think it is rare for it to make its way to Japan in the first place.
I'm guessing from this, but I think Crocus was a hit when it was first released, and production was increased. For this reason, many plates and cups were produced, and it is thought that a certain number remain today.
However, in 1979, a major change occurred on the ARABIA production line. The format of the factory shifted from the workshop style, where clay was shaped by hand by craftsmen, to a larger-scale, standardized mass-production style with the introduction of automated machine-based molding lines. The first mechanized work was a series called Arctica, which was a hard, thick, and durable tableware called vitro porcelain (stoneware). Arctica is still in production.
In 1979, it seems that a large number of the craftsmen who had been working until then were laid off or laid off. This year, ARABIA, which had previously carried out most of its processes by hand, marked the end of the era of handicrafts, and turned to mechanization to stably produce products that were more uniform, more uniform, and less likely to break down. It was time.
Why did ARABIA Crocus become such a fantastic work?
Crocus is a sophisticated style of tableware that differs from the conventional Nordic tableware. The Nordic vintage tableware made in the mid-20th century, known as the mid-century period, had a basic style of ``the decorations are modern and beautiful, but the tableware itself is thick and heavy.'' Although Scandinavian tableware has the beauty of interior decoration, it is basically used for everyday use at Scandinavian dining tables. For this reason, sturdy vessels were preferred over delicate ones. Furthermore, considering the pottery technology of the time, it seems that there was still room for progress in material research and kiln temperature control in order to make thin pieces.
On the other hand, crocus is thin and light as tableware, and has an excellent design. This may seem like a good thing at first glance, but with ARABIA's ceramic manufacturing technology at the time, Crocus was a series that was far more prone to initial defects.
Looking at the vintage crocus tableware currently in circulation, the crocuses in the many Nordic vintage tableware from ARABIA are by far the most common.
Penetrations are cracks that occur on the glaze surface during firing during the manufacturing process, and are scratches during use.
(Photo: Intrusion seen at the edge)
(Photo: Spider web-like intrusions. Crocuses have quite a lot of this type of intrusions.)
As is usual with Scandinavian vintage tableware, if there are any penetrations, they will not be rejected during inspection, so they will be shipped as is. This is not limited to ARABIA, but also applies to very famous Scandinavian tableware brands such as Gustavsberg and Rörstrand. In a sense, this may reflect the "mottainai" spirit of Northern Europe .
Penetrations are cracks in the glaze surface that occur unintentionally, so the shape usually runs like a lightning bolt in just one spot. However, there are clear similarities in the intrusions of crocuses, and it is possible to classify them into patterns such as spider web-like or continuous longitudinal stripes at the edges.
Considering this, we have to say that the crocus intrusion was caused by a problem in the manufacturing process. This may be due to a reaction to making the product thinner, or an attempt to increase production despite a lack of accumulated technical know-how. Crocus was originally manufactured under a design and technical environment that made it easy for defective products to occur.
Production was discontinued in 1979 due to multiple factors, including the fact that Crocus itself had many defective products, and it was time to renew the production line and switch to new products like Arctica. You can
Nordic vintage tableware for Japanese people
I mentioned that the gray rim GR and the black and white version BW are written in English, but if ARABIA was thinking of going beyond Finland and the Nordic countries and promoting sales in overseas markets, it is natural that there would be a penetration. This Scandinavian way of thinking does not work in other countries.
In fact, in Japan, vintage Scandinavian tableware that has a sharp appearance is discounted in price. It's strange when you think about it because the prices are the same locally. However, this clearly shows that ``different countries have different points of evaluation.'' After all, if we look at the world at large, it is better that there is no such thing as a breakdown.
In summary, ARABIA crocus became a phantom tableware because the production system changed due to mechanization of factories, and because ARABIA's technology at the time did not allow for stable mass production of crocus. This may be due to the fact that when exporting products overseas, even more consistent quality was required.
Crocus gray rims and other varieties were created with the intention of increasing consumer choice by creating various variations, but as a result, the production of crocuses itself was discontinued, and to this day, almost no crocuses are produced. .
In terms of design, the only difference is that the edges are colored gray, and the basic form and workmanship are the same as the black and white and color versions. However, in the end, collector's items are valued for their rarity, so the Gray Rim stands out in terms of the small number of pieces produced.
Please take this opportunity to check out our Gray Rim Collection .