Design Feature #08

Crafts of Life

The Designer's Heart - Sori Yanagi

Written by Linus
Photo credit by Linus & Kapok

How can a water kettle be considered perfect?

A wider and shorter body increases thermal contact and therefore the water will boil faster, a streamlined curvy handle with a thicker grip gives the most comfortable touch, and a naturally tilted body controls the amount of water that pours out and facilitates the making of hand drip coffee.

This is a kettle for household use. It looks ordinary but never is. What is even out of the ordinary is the big name behind: Japanese design giant Sori Yanagi.

The stainless steel collection has become the designer’s icon over the years.

Born in 1915 as the son of Soetsu Yanagi, who founded the Mingei Movement which celebrated Japanese folk crafts and the beauty of everyday objects, Yanagi lays particular emphasis on practicality and craftsmanship, hence an unpretentious and implicitly delicate design ultimately influencing Japan and even the entire world.

He leaves us the design philosophy of daily living aside from a variety of awesome designer objects.

For instance, the filter meshes he designed are carved directly from individual pieces of metal sheet for a more elegant look; the cooking pots are created with greater curved edges foe easier pouring; and even the simplest utensils like knives, forks and spoons are sophisticatedly designed for perfect grasping. After all, they are the merchandise designed for the real life use.

Advocating such unique and avant-garde aesthetics, Yanagi became a pioneer in industrial design in Japan and the first to be welcomed in the world of Western design with his groundbreaking masterpiece of Butterfly Stool in 1957: the gently curving silhouette of two reversely bound bent fiberboards is reminiscent of the flapping wings of a butterfly. The romantic image not only manifests the Zen concept from the East but also carries an ambitious forward-looking sense, therefore it is understandable why the designer stool finally won the gold medal at the Milan Triennial in 1957 and Yanagi has been made well known to the world since then.

Resembling a flapping butterfly, Butterfly Stool establishes Sori Yanagi’s design mastership.

Despite his departure out of pneumonia in 2011, his designs for household products and architecture even together with his vision and knowledge about design in his creative journey of six decades leave us endless and timeless inspiration. To commemorate his centennial birthday, his studio unprecedentedly presents the exhibition concept “Beauty Born, Not Made” in its first Asian tour, in which Hong Kong is the second stop and the exhibition is titled "The Designer’s Heart”.

The designer's tender heart unveils his simple and direct ingenuity, followed by his strong sense of vivid vitality. In terms of design, Yanagi believed to feel with hands and find out the answers with hands. Ultimately, his creation of a variety of daily necessities proves how his perspective lasts infinitely.

This year sees an unprecedented exhibition tour in Asia to mark the centennial birthday of Sori Yanagi.

Exhibition at PMQ: kapok: Sori Yanagi pop-­ up store, HG10 – HG12, G/F, Hollywood, PMQ (Until 30.6.2015)

We use cookies to optimize website functionality and improve browsing experience. By continuing to use this site, you accept to its use of cookies, or click to find out more.