By Rajvi Mehta and Malini Aikat
The Japanese don’t like to throw anything away. Wastage is regretful. This idea is referred to as ‘mottainai’. Linked to this idea is the concept of ‘wabi sabi’ which is finding beauty in the imperfect. The Japanese will take cracked objects and fill the cracks with gold dust, silver or platinum and thus bring to life something entirely new. It is almost like closing and healing wounds or not letting the story of the lives that were connected to this object disappear.
When I was away studying, I had bought a beautifully hand painted bowl depicting the city I was in. I had given it to my parents who were visiting, to carry it back home. Sadly, in transit, when my mother opened my bag at home, it was broken into many pieces. My mother kept it safely, feeling extremely guilty, not throwing it away hoping we could save it. For years it’s been lying in my cupboard, in the bag. When I came across this art, it reminded me of that bag, and that now I can bring the bowl back to life.
At the lab now, we’ve been exploring this delicate art form. A cracked surface tells a story, contains a history – of people and places, of events. Here we use old tiles, beautiful in themselves. Their old cracks are filled in with gold to create a haunting effect. But as in all design journeys the art takes a life of its own. We find we are creating new stories by leaving some hollows free, or filling up crevices not with gold but with other broken material and completely new visions are born.
In the picture, a Kinstugi inspired wallcovering: “Gilded Memories” by Lab Nilaya designer, Isha.
Read more about Kinstugi in this beautiful piece by Tokyo based journalist, Pallavi Aiyer: Seeing Beauty in the Imperfect