Our favorite column at the very cerebral blog Design Observer is John Foster’s Accidental Mysteries, compilations of photographs around a theme. This week’s post focuses on the Japanese tradition of  kintsugi — the artful repairing of damaged objects, and illustrates the beauty of broken and repaired things. This 18th century carved wooden bowl being sold at David Bell antiques is being described as “Perfectly imperfect.”As is this antique Japanese textile:

It makes us think of not just repairing things, but repairing them in a way that they become something more than their old self: a new iteration of themselves. We wondered if there was such a things as colored ceramics glue (imagining a very intentional gold glue line on a repaired plate) and discovered that there are colored hot glue sticks and of course, there’s the amazing Sugru.

Making an bold repair can take courage in our perfectionist culture, to NOT be just-bought perfect.  We love to try to push the line where utility becomes….surprising and beautiful.

Related posts: tom sachs on transparent design -> making and fixing
‘the furniture doctor’ and other hot tips for second-hand
repair manifesto is a force!
what unkempt or messy or shabby can mean
ribbon watchband repair

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3 replies on “kintsugi: the artful repair of damaged things

  1. Thanks for the link to John Foster’s column; fell down that rabbit hole for a while! Also very good timing, since October is the month in tea ceremony when it’s most appropriate to use mended utensils, and to use up remnants of tea or incense before opening the winter sunken hearth.

  2. It’s intriguing that the repaired Japanese textile looks amazingly like early African American strip quilts–playing different variations of a rhythm off against each other.

  3. Reminds me of Sugru – which is a moldable, air-drying silicone rubber for repairing items. It is the “fashion” of Sugru to be visible to show the “art” of repair.

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