The Kintsugi Approach – Tear And Repair

An Authentic Approach to Living with Material.

Recent news that the Government has pledged a 25 year plan on the reduction of consumers’ plastics, highlights the pressing need to constantly engage with new and alternative ways to re-imagine materials within the interiors industry.

In keeping with this idea of accepting the imperfect we at House of Grey and Louisa Grey are influenced by the aesthetics of the traditional Wabi-sabi mentality. A design purveyor who has executed this look well is Axel Vervoordt. We enjoy an authentic approach that beauty lies in the ‘imperfect and incomplete’ form of an object, a modest and ingenious result during the process of crafting.  This concept is readily apparent in the craft of Kintsugi.

The Kintsugi Approach.


Image: source unknown

Kintsugi is a Japanese process of repairing broken pottery. They bond the fragments together using lacquer gold, silver or platinum powder made molten. The meticulously considered joinery is incomparably stunning.

The maker’s ability to exhibit the cracks as a feature adds to the sequel of the object’s life. The result is an original, authentic piece for the home. Rather than the object becoming obsolete, it still has a service to play. This is a philosophical care and longevity that we value.

The fractured appearance of Kintsugi is reminiscent of a piece titled ‘Shibboleth’ by the celebrated Columbian artist Doris Salcedo. Salcedo exhibited at TATE Modern in 2007. Shibboleth amplified the dividing line as an aesthetically pleasing feature in its raw state.

Image source: It’s Nice that. Image courtesy of Doris Salcedo

The original bold crack was then sealed with reinforced concrete post installation. It creates a simple scarring mark across the grey ground; a minimal appearance that allows the viewer to imagine the act that made the piece and consequently questions the past and present characteristics of the piece.

Following the positive Kintsugi philosophy that imperfections are accepted and evolve into an original feature, the British bespoke designers Forge Creative, ‘combine traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design to create beautifully unique items’. The design duo, Josh Kennard and Oliver Milne founded the company on the ethos to make high quality living products with both style and longevity.

Image: Kintsugi Coffee table by Forge Creative

Using reinforced black concrete for the legs the materials uphold this idea of repair, evidently displayed in the golden joinery of the shattered top face. The mix of resin and golden metallic powder creates a vibrant shine between the matt like surface of the concrete.

The staple method.

Another pioneering technique of the repair aesthetic is the staple method. Founded by 15th Century Japanese Shoguns, the craftsman would drill holes into the porcelain, mending the broken fragments with literal metal stitches. The finish is rough and follows the Wabi-sabi spiritual value that nothing is perfect.

This is apparent in the stainless steel staples built into the maple tabletop showcased by STACKLAB. A multi-disciplinary design studio based in Toronto, Canada. The table alludes to this point of reconstruction through the two visible brass staples on the corner of the table. The design is both strategic and simple in it’s overall appearance.

Image Source: STACKLAB

Similarly, the fine artist Kader Attia also exposes the action of repair in his piece titled ‘Traditional Repair and Immaterial Injury’ 2015. The theme of transience and reconstruction is visibly apparent through the use of minute staples to highlight the line.

Image Source: Daily Art Fair. Image courtesy of Oak Taylor-Smith, Galleria Continua.

To counter Richard R. Powell’s description that ‘nothing lasts’, here at House of Grey we want to encourage the Kintsugi mentality of repair towards design in our current dispensable living.