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  • Writer's pictureObject of Reference

New imperial porcelain by Middle Kingdom

Middle Kingdom wares are inspired by a long and distinguished history of design and craftsmanship in Chinese porcelain, but we contribute a fresh and invigorating style to the genre. Bo Jia and Alison Alten established the Middle Kingdom kiln in 1998 to broaden porcelain traditions for a modern audience. New works of imperial calibre are now available for everyone. I reached out to them to find out more about their inspiration and designs. Object of Reference: What’s in the core of brand? Middle Kingdom: Originally to be inspired by tradition, but we have grown in our influences. Our basic core values are beauty and integrity.

Object of Reference: You have a big team of designers. Can you tell me a little bit more about yourselves? Middle Kingdom: We are a husband and wife team with backgrounds in art and art history, respectively. We met when Alison was an exchange student to China. Our partnership started with Bo looking West and Alison looking East. Our design group has expanded to include designers whose work we appreciate and who want to collaborate with us.

Object of Reference: What is your background and have you always wanted to be designers? Middle Kingdom: We haven’t always wanted to be designers. Bo started as a painter even though he did coursework in graphic design, and Alison always thought she would enter either academia or government service. After Alison finished graduate school we decided to start our company, because we knew we could be better bosses than anyone we would work for, and be able to do things that we wanted to do.

Object of Reference: What is your source of inspiration? Middle Kingdom: We love nature, architecture, classical art, classical and contemporary music. Bo is very inspired by sculpture and colour. Alison is more about texture.

Object of Reference: Do you believe in following rules when it comes to design, and if so, what are these rules in your designs? Middle Kingdom: No rules, except the ones you must follow because the clay demands it.

Object of Reference: What would be a dream project to work on? Middle Kingdom: To be able to interpret some of the most ephemeral glazes in a modern way, specifically Ru ware glazes, peach bloom glazes, and flambé glazes.

Object of Reference: What are you working on at the moment, and what are your creative plans for the future? Middle Kingdom: We have lots of commission projects currently, mostly under wraps right now because we’re too early in the process to tell you about them! Look for the projects this fall or next spring. We are also working on expanding some of our most popular lines with new colours and finishes. We want to streamline our core design selection to allow more choices on a limited number of shapes, so our brand ID becomes even more recognizable. To find out more about Middle Kingdom go to their website at or follow them on Instagram @mkporcelain. Also if you enjoyed this blogpost go ahead and forward it to another Design lover and don’t forget to subscribe to my Newsletter and be the first one to be notified when a new blogpost is up.

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