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The Beauty of Everyday Things


by Soetsu Yanagi

“Radical and inspiring … Yanagi’s vision puts the connection between heart and hand before the transient and commercial” – Edmund de Waal

The Beauty of Everyday Things

The daily lives of ordinary people are replete with objects, common things used in commonplace settings. These objects are our constant companions in life. As such, writes Soetsu Yanagi, they should be made with care and built to last, treated with respect and even affection. They should be natural and simple, sturdy and safe – the aesthetic result of wholeheartedly fulfilling utilitarian needs. They should, in short, be things of beauty.

In an age of feeble and ugly machine-made things, these essays call for us to deepen and transform our relationship with the objects that surround us. Inspired by the work of the simple, humble craftsmen Yanagi encountered during his lifelong travels through Japan and Korea, they are an earnest defence of modest, honest, handcrafted things – from traditional teacups to jars to cloth and paper. Objects like these exemplify the enduring appeal of simplicity and function: the beauty of everyday things.

About the Author

Soetsu Yanagi was a philosopher of aesthetics and religion, and the founding father of the Japanese folk crafts (‘mingei’) movement.

Born in Tokyo in 1889, his interests as a young man lay firmly in the West: he published the anti-Confucian avant-garde literary magazine Shirakaba (“White Birch”), met and befriended the English potter Bernard Leach, and became fascinated with the work of William Blake and Walt Whitman.

Aesthetics, folk crafts and the philosophy of religion continued to fascinate Yanagi throughout his life. In 1957, in acknowledgment of his unremitting dedication of folk crafts, he was designated a Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government. He died in1961.

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Weight 0.3 kg
Dimensions 12.8 × 2.6 × 19.7 cm