Q & A

Q & A: Alison and Bo Jia

“About the year 300 AD in a small town on the edge of Poyang Lake in the south of China, clever artisans discovered kaolin earth on a cliff side that now bears that name.  The first page of the long history of porcelain was thus written.”  And so begins the lovely story that inspired Alison Alten and Bo Jia to create Middle Kingdom Porcelain.

Alison and Bo Jia

Alison and Bo Jia

Though born and raised in different parts of the world (she in northern Virginia and he in Nanchang, China), Alison and Bo grew up appreciating the skill and artistry involved in the production of imperial porcelain. 

Hand Painted Scholar Vase - Grey Finch on Peach Branch

Hand Painted Scholar Vase - Grey Finch on Peach Branch

They were destined to meet and fall in love.  Bo’s talent as a highly trained artist (he’s a graduate of The China Academy of Fine Arts) and Alison’s passion for porcelain (she has an MA in East Asian Studies from Harvard) led them to create an art larger than themselves, and one they hope would endure well into the next century.

Mini Vases in The Washington Post

Mini Vases in The Washington Post

When we first met this charming couple, we couldn’t help but fall in love, too… with the elegant shapes, timeless yet modern, and the gorgeous colors in rainbow hues.  Each piece comes nestled in its own handmade muslin box, a gift of shear prettiness.

Colorful Bowls and Vases

Colorful Bowls and Vases

So as the weather warms and buds begin to blossom, we can’t think of a better way to show off garden blooms than with a Middle Kingdom bowl or vase.  Many thanks to Alison (“A”) and Bo (“B”) for sharing their passion and their art with us!

1.   What did you want to be when you were a child?
A: I wanted to read every book ever written, so perhaps a librarian?
B: I remember wishing Chairman Mao a “long long life” and hoping that I could be an immortal, too!

2.   What is your necessary luxury?
A: Dark chocolate and ripe yellow peaches
B: Sauteed soft shell crabs with garlicky vinegar dipping sauce

3.   What is your favorite decorating accessory?
A & B: Middle Kingdom porcelains, of course!

4.   Where do you window shop?
A: Increasingly, via blogs
B: Book Hill and Cady’s Alley, antiques and home furnishings destinations in Georgetown in Washington, DC

5.   What makes a house a home?
A: Children’s artwork
B: A personal collection of arts and antiques, amassed over time

6.   What is the most enjoyable part of your day?
A: Walking to school in the mornings and getting home for a few minutes of quite before Bo gets up!
B: Sitting in the back yard in the early morning, drinking coffee and looking at my bonsai plants

7.   What is your favorite flower?
A: Among many – cosmos, peonies and cherry blossoms
B: Chinese magnolia

8.   If you were a cocktail, what would you be?
A: Does bubble tea with milk count?
B: Blue Mojito

9.   If your life were made into a movie, what would be the title and who would play your part?
A (for B too): We could star as the star-crossed lovers in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, without the star-crossed part!

10.  Name one thing from your “Bucket List”.
A: Living on a taiko drumming commune
B: Inside tours of production facilities and workshops of the finest  brands in the world – I have been inspired by their excellence to create my own company

For more information about Middle Kingdom and to learn more about Alison and Bo, please visit their website.

Photos from Middle Kingdom, The Washington Post, and My Mama’s Table

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  • Reply the zhush March 12, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Such fun questions! New to this company/brand, but really liking those mini vases, great shapes and colors!

  • Reply Alison Alten Jia March 12, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Thank you for the lovely post! We sound more fabulous than we really are! Speaking of fabulous, the weather has turned in Jingdezhen and Bo is working hard on new designs for fall intro. Stay tuned!

    • Reply carolyn March 13, 2010 at 9:36 am

      Alison – you are fabulous and your work is gorgeous!
      xxoo Carolyn

  • Reply Gwen Driscoll March 13, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    What an interesting interview. So glad to know your blog. Just love it. Thanks for visiting Ragland Hill Social. So glad to have all my blog friends! Happy Weekend.

  • Reply Jamilyn March 14, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Hi and thank you for stopping by my blog and your sweet comments! I love this couple, they are so cute. Beautiful creations. I will have to check it out. Thank you for sharing them. Have a great day!


  • Reply Diana March 15, 2010 at 12:40 am

    Beautiful, absolutely gorgeous work 🙂

  • Reply FROM THE RIGHT BANK March 15, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I saw them profiled somewhere else (I can’t remember where – on tv, maybe?) and thought they were so interesting. Their products are just beautiful!

  • Reply paula March 16, 2010 at 8:56 am

    such a beautiful post.

  • Reply pve March 17, 2010 at 7:15 am

    I am so thrilled to learn about this incredible couple. I recently gave a friend a red one which she adores. I must say I was tempted to buy one for me, and now I shall, after knowing the history.

  • Reply norsena August 17, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    just purchased a painting,framed and lovely,,,it is of two polka dot bowls in pinks,blues and mauve,,,one bowl is nestled into the other and filled with 5 apples,,,the art work is so absolutly delicate,peaceful and precise,,,i created a vinette with asian and french things with it in my home,,,i feel serene just looking at it,,,Bo JiA painted it…i looked you up and was not surprised to find you nor to read the lovely things about you,your love, and your art…thankyou so much for your creation,,,norsena

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