K I NT S UGI The an­cient Ja­panese craft’s ethos is per­fect for our times

This year, take up the an­cient Ja­panese art that turns bro­ken ob­jects into beau­ti­ful ones

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Along with many other things Ja­panese,

kintsugi – which, trans­lated, means ‘to join with gold’ – has caught the de­sign zeit­geist. An an­cient method of us­ing gold and lac­quer to mend bro­ken ce­ram­ics and glass­ware, this craft is be­ing re­vived by con­tem­po­rary de­sign­ers. Lon­don duo Yenchen & Yawen (yenchenyawen.com), for ex­am­ple, has used it as the in­spi­ra­tion for its ‘Land­scape of Ox­i­da­tion’ col­lec­tion (over­leaf), com­bin­ing metal with Jesmonite – more on that ma­te­rial on p40. Want to try the craft for your­self? De­sign duo Hu­made’s ‘New Kintsugi Re­pair Kit’ (£25; hu­made.nl) al­lows am­a­teurs to bring beauty to their bro­ken ob­jects. ➤

be­lieved that, be­cause hu­man ex­is­tence is tran­sient, aged ob­jects should all be re­spected. He is said to have stu­diously ig­nored a costly tea jar that a din­ner party host at­tempted to im­press him with, mak­ing a point of ad­mir­ing the rustling trees out­side his house in­stead. But when, in a fit of pique, the host smashed his jar and had it re­paired with kintsugi, Rikyu re­lented and pro­nounced the ves­sel ‘mag­nif­i­cent’.

There was one un­in­tended con­se­quence to this. The art of kintsugi be­came so pop­u­lar that peo­ple be­gan smash­ing crock­ery de­lib­er­ately – the op­po­site of fru­gal Zen ideals. For those who grasped the idea bet­ter, it stood as an en­dur­ing sym­bol of why we should be more thought­ful about waste. Kintsugi asks us to take worn and bro­ken ob­jects and res­cue them from the rav­ages of time and mis­for­tune, restor­ing their beauty with a lit­tle TLC. At a time when we are buy­ing and dis­card­ing far too many pos­ses­sions, per­haps we should all ‘make do and mend’ the Ja­panese way.

IN AS­TON­ISH­ING FEATS OF ARTISTRY, RE­PAIRED CRACKS COULD BE MADE TO RE­SEM­BLE WA­TER­FALLS OR MOUN­TAIN PEAKS

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