The Making of Ukiyo

May is AAPI month, and we’re reflecting on the diverse ways that Asian cultures have impacted the world of art and design, from woodblock prints and resist dyeing to paper marbling. In particular, we’re highlighting our Ukiyo collection, which was created using the Japanese marbling process of suminagashi

Hands dropping ink into a tray of water

Due to the ephemeral nature of paper, the origins of the archaic suminagashi technique are shrouded in mystery but appear to have begun in the 12th century. Suminagashi translates to “floating ink” and involves dropping ink into a tray of water and then manipulating the ink by using a comb, piece of hair, or gently blowing across the water's surface. A sheet of paper laid gently onto the surface captures the design before it dissipates.

Hands lifting a sheet of paper off the surface of a tray of water

Our creative team learned this technique and created their own suminagashi artworks in-house, using the same materials: water, paper, and ink. The addition of 21st-century digital technology enables the final outcome: a collection of majestic, flowing murals perfect for contemporary spaces. 

Ukiyo mural installed in a living space

The collection is named Ukiyo, after ukiyo-e block prints. ukiyo-e translates to “pictures of the floating world”– fitting, since these murals are snapshots of the microcosm created by floating ink on water. The ten murals worked in earthy blues, browns, and golds, are named for cities in Japan, further honoring the origins of this printmaking method. 

The resulting collection blends a centuries-old technique with a modern sensibility for handcrafted murals that are impactful and versatile. 

View the award-winning collection here.