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Alison Alten Jia

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