(1.5 MINUTE READ)
What is the link between a light bulb and a ball pen? A soap bar and a knife? They are banal things we all have at home but rarely really behold. That we use every day without wondering about it. Because they are so familiar to us.
They are functional objects that make life easier and are essential. But whose formal design or shape is of little importance or even obsolete to us. They surround us, they get used. Yet they draw no attraction to themselves. They do not aim to win a design price, they display no pride or come with flashy effects. And yet they can be gorgeous. It’s a matter of perspective. This is a heartfelt call to deepen our relationship with the objects that surround us.
“Objects that fill our everyday lives are constant companions. They should be made with care and built to last, treated with respect and even affection. They should be things of beauty.”
The Mingei Philosophy
We live in a world of things. Beautiful, ugly, expensive and cheap things. And common things used in commonplace settings. According to philosopher and Japanese folk-craft pioneer Soetsu Yanagi, who formed the Mingei (“folk-craft”) movement in the late 1920s and 1930s in Japan, everyday objects should be viewed and treated as things of beauty. The movement aimed to rewire people’s perception of beauty to include the utility of an object, not just the outward appearance.
Today, the perception of beauty often relies on an object being made by someone famous or having a high price tag. But an object should not be beautiful because it embodies perfection or is particularly artful. It should be designed for its purpose rather than to look really good. It should be natural and simple. Sturdy and safe – it should stand the test of reality.
Objects, people and processes are sincere, wholesome, honest and utilitarian.
Real beauty befalls in simple and humble craftsmanship.
Because the craftsman does not aim to create beauty. He is stepping back in the open process of objects becoming – a process that is full of contingencies. A beautiful object is the aesthetic result of wholeheartedly fulfilling utilitarian needs.
It’s the opposite of craving for the latest fashion or device. But it is now, in our age of feeble, quick and cheaply made things, that we see a growing longing for high quality objects, made with care. Simply put: objects that can last a lifetime.
The Beauty of Inconspicuous Objects
When we pay closer attention to objects surrounding us we tend to look barely at their particular shape, their popping color or material. Everyday objects are often looked down upon as common and coarse. Yet, try to open your eyes and see that a mundane, everyday object can contain a whole world.
A close contemplation is crucial, as beauty can be found in minor details. Intelligent design or hidden technical ingenuity that astonishes and we marvel at. We can discover the enduring appeal of simplicity and function.
Put in perspective the beauty of those everyday objects and the hidden forces of harmony unfold, and inconspicuous things can turn into small still lifes. A handmade bowl or cup that you use and enjoy for years through its familiarity and simplicity. Objects that remind us of the beauty of life – it’s all about the minor things.