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Naoto Fukasawa Celebrates the Humble Mingei

What is Mingei and why do it matter? Naoto Fukasawa highlights the beauty and importance of this anonymous everyday objects at 21_21 Sight, Tokyo

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Possibly the most humble of categories in the design world, Mingei do not often get the love and attention they deserve. To rectify this, renowned designer Naoto Fukasawa curated Mingei: Another Kind of Art for 21_21 Sight, Tokyo. He selected 146 objects from the collection of the Japan Folk Craft Museum, where he is also the director, and paired them with items from his personal collection in celebration of these handcrafted everyday objects.

But what are Mingei?

The term “Mingei” was first coined in 1925 by Soetsu Yanagi (1889 – 1961) who recognized the value and beauty in utilitarian objects that are crafted by anonymous makers. They are objects that are inexpensive and ordinary but, nevertheless, contain clever design solutions and subtle beauty.

Naoto Fukasawa says: “We love, respect, and are moved by Mingei. We don’t need information about who, when or how it was made. It’s simply about looking at a creation, being enthralled by its charm and thinking “Wow. This is amazing.””

Examples on display include ceramic bowls, cast iron teapots, and small carved statues. The crafting of these objects is passed on from generation to generation in different regions and therefore distinctive materials, colors, processed and shapes have evolved that characterize different approaches to making a specific object depending on geographical location.

However, given the increasing domination of mass-market goods, Mingei and their unique characteristics are diluting and dwindling. Despite this, the exhibition also gives examples of present-day objects and people who are carrying on the Mingei tradition and influencing the way objects and perceived and made.

In addition to the spectrum of objects on show, the exhibition delves into the production and history of Mingei by showing footage from The Mingei Movement Film Archive which captured the early stages of the Mingei movement in the 1920s and 30s.

‘Mingei: Another Kind of Art’ will be on display at 21_21 Sight until February 24

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Another Kind of Art
Another Kind of Art
Another Kind of Art
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