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What is kintsugi the Japanese repair technique

The art of kintsugi is to repair a broken object by gluing the pieces together and highlighting the joints with gold powder. The contemporary decoration was inspired by this technique to sublimate the objects, but also the interiors. Overview of the essentials to know about this Japanese repair technique.

Update on Japanese kintsugi

The kintsugi (kin: gold and tsugi: joint) is a Japanese repair technique dating from the end of the 15the century, used on broken ceramics or porcelain. It is carried out by means of a lacquer sprinkled with gold powder. This lacquer (urushi) is several times purified sap, magnolia charcoal, terracotta powder or rice flour glue. This method gives a second life to broken objects by embellishing the cracks with golden sutures.

 

mug repaired kintsugi style
A handmade mug that is broken and then repaired with the Japanese art form known as kintsugi using gold to enhance the beauty of the broken piece and add to its character while continuing its existence.

The art of kintsugi was born when Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa returned a damaged tea bowl to China for repair. It would have been turned over, adorned with unsightly staples. To repair the object in a more refined and delicate way, the Japanese craftsmen would have prepared a lacquer which contains a metallic additive which can be gold or silver. It was no longer a question of hiding the repairs, but of putting them forward. Far from signifying its end, the breakage of a ceramic is synonymous with renewal, because it is inscribed in the soul of the object and in its continuity.

  • The philosophy of kintsugi

The philosophy of kintsugi is to appreciate what does not meet all the criteria of perfection, starting with oneself. It touches on the symbolism of resilience and healing, because the broken object is cared for and honored. He assumes, so to speak, his past and paradoxically becomes more beautiful, more resistant and more precious than before having suffered the accident. Instead of trying to erase or make mistakes disappear, this Japanese method puts the latter forward to love a restored object in a new way. It is part of a larger philosophy that is wabi sabi.

Catering via kintsugi

KINTSUGI SELETTI
KINTSUGI the Japanese trend by SELETTI

The restoration using the kintsuki technique follows several steps:

  1. The part is first cleaned and glued several times, then the cracks are plugged.
  2. Lacquer is applied in several coats before being sanded.
  3. A last layer of red lacquer on which the gold is sprinkled is placed.
  4. After drying, the gold is polished using an agate.

In the age of mass consumption, kintsugi is an art of living that pushes to put things into perspective. It encourages us to appreciate things that are simple, atypical and imperfect. The flaw of a broken object is seen as a unique characteristic, as it brings authenticity while testifying to its history.

Japanese kintsugi for a contemporary decoration

Today, the kintsugi is on the way to becoming a true figure of contemporary art. This method is strongly reminiscent of that of upcycling, a contemporary movement advocating recycling. In addition, contemporary designers, decorators and artists are increasingly appropriating the traditional Japanese repertoire. The logic behind the art of kintsugi can be transposed to all types of objects and not just to ceramics. Note that items repaired using the kintsugi method are only used for decorative purposes.

  • A Japanese design studio has notably combined mino-yaki and urushi-tsugi to create decorative accessories clearly inspired by kintsugi.
  • Some French designers adopt this method by combining wood with pigments and tints.
  • Several collections of contemporary tableware made up of bowls, cups, mugs and plates are inspired by kintsugi.

This technique also applies to furniture, decorative objects, paintings, etc. In this context, it combines, for example, old wood and composite materials such as acrylic or bio-based resin. Contemporary panoramic panels are also adorned with cracks and repaired with kintsugi to dress the interiors.

Contemporary and kintsugi style

The contemporary style is a reaction to modernism. It designates furniture dating from the 1970s. In terms of materials, two trends exist for this style: salvage and high-tech. The oil crisis having made plastic expensive, designers have rediscovered the pleasure of creating furniture made from bamboo, wicker, cardboard, etc. A contemporary decoration is constantly evolving, because it borrows without hesitation elements that come from another era and the kintsugi fits perfectly in this spirit.

The contemporary style is based on a clever mix of clean shapes and straight lines. It combines aesthetics, design and functionality. The designers innovate every year by designing decorative objects that are always more designer. The kintsugi technique can be used in a creative process. In this context, other types of more contemporary objects, materials and colors can be worked on.

Among the decorative items in the kintsugi style available on the market are among others:

  • vases and ceramics;
  • chairs and tables;
  • the plates, bowls and dishes;
  • paintings or panels;
  • statuettes or statues, etc.

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