EUGÉNIE O'KIN (1880-1948)
Eugénie O'Kin is one of those personalities whose talent and the rare quality of her works are still too obscure. Today known under the various names of Eugénie Jubin, Eugénie O'Kin or Yokohama O'Kin - in reference to her hometown -, this exceptional tableware was born in 1880 from a Japanese mother and a French father who emigrated to the Land of the Rising Sun to develop the family business specializing in the silk trade. Growing up during a period when Japan was opening up to the world, Eugenie had the rare privilege of receiving the dual education that her mixed-blood background earned her. Imbued with the culture of the country in which she grew up, she was also influenced by her father's western roots, following the teaching of the only French school in the city, the Dames de Saint Maur boarding school. Sensitive to the arts through her activity, the young woman's family encourages an early predisposition for drawing as well as great creativity.
Eugénie O'Kin leaves Japan for Paris. In 1906, she sent some of her creations to the Salon d'Automne. The training of the artist in the rudiments of the table maker's trade is done in France. During these same years, Eugénie meets her future husband, the ceramist Henri Simmen, with whom she soon travels throughout Asia from 1919 to 1921. The visit to Indochina, where her brother lived, in Saigon, left a lasting impression on the young couple whose creations would reveal profound influences of Khmer art.
More than ever, they nourished each other with their native cultures. Simmen's ceramics are crowned by corks or lids, supported by pedestals designed by his wife, and are crowned by corks or lids supported by pedestals designed by his wife. More than a simple collaboration, O'Kin's participation in her husband's creations acts as a necessary complement to his creative process.
A virtuoso in her field, Eugénie O'Kin is praised by critics who appreciate the immense respect and love for the materials she works with, from sycamore to ivory and coral. Her Japanese roots made sensitive in the subjects and forms she devotes and favours - a panel of delicate flowers and stylised plants, for example - and giving rise to the incomparable elegance of the sinuosity of the lines and silhouettes of her bottles or vases can only make us regret the gradual disappearance, over the years, of her autonomous works, in favour of the competition to those of her husband.