LET’S MEET... MIEKE CUPPEN & TORII - Urban Nature Culture


This is me in front of my studio at Voorhaven 57. I share this beautiful building with other designers and creative companies. Love the vibe here, in my city Rotterdam!

Usually, when designing, I begin by choosing a function. Torii, on the other hand, started from something different: three lines on paper, followed by a tiny paper model. It originated from a simple, two-dimensional shape, an arc with two lines, as you can see on the very first sketch.  

The silhouette unfolded into a multifunctional object. I love that this silhouette can be stretched out infinitely and that different functions can be assigned, depending on size and material.

Its design is based on intuition, so the actual function of the Torii is completely open. You’re free to use it as you like. It’s an eye catcher at home, stands out on your dining table. You can add napkins or cutlery to your table setting on it, or use it to serve special dishes, like sushi or dessert. At other times, the dish can be used to keep your pens, keys or fruit – a very functional use. But, again, I’ll leave that up to you. I’m very curious to see where and how people will use my design.


The model is manufactured in brass, a mixture of copper and zinc. This produces a coppery-yellow color with a soft, matte glow. The horizontal lines provide extra depth and highlight the design process. The feet are thicker than the dish itself and give the design a sturdy appearance. Torii has a foodsafe coating, so it’s suitable for serving hot and cold food. Brass is meant to be used. If it gets in touch with harder materials, light markings occur - but this makes the tray even more beautiful. I love to see the patina that will arise over time using this tray.

On the left is a snapshot I made in the showroom of UNC. These are the first samples made by the Indian manufacturer. It’s always special to see your design made for the first time. I instantly fell in love with it!

About Mieke
Torii is a design by Mieke Cuppen that can be used as tableware or as an accessory. It is an object for many surroundings. Studio Mieke Cuppen designs tableware and offers consultancy to brands and designers in the industry. Every new design is like a blank canvas; the aim is to merge functionality and aesthetics. Her work interacts with the user and leaves room for new ways of presentation and use. Mieke:“I start with the basics and investigate the applications. How does the user actually use my work? I translate that result into a new design. Tableware gets its real value through its use.”

This special design is named after the traditional Japanese gates, found at the entrance of Shinto shrines. Shinto shrines have a torii marking the entrance – often painted vermilion red made from powdered mineral cinnabar, with a black upper lintel. Mieke: “In 2017 I visited Japan and travelled there for a month. This trip must, subconsciously, have been an influence on the design. It was definitely an inspiration for the name Torii: a traditional Japanese gate.  ” With Mieke Cuppen’s Torii, a contemporary translation is brought to life. 


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