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
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