Fixing Stuff, Repairing the World

Alice Rawsthorn talks about the “art of repair” in her review of the Tokyo exhibit Fab Mind.

As odd as it is to see an exquisite 17th-century Japanese bowl in a contemporary design exhibition, it seems odder still to discover that it is there not because of the finesse with which it was originally made, but the skill with which it was repaired during the late 1800s.

Tsukuroi, or the art of repair, is so revered in Japan that it is believed to create a new form of beauty, as the bowl demonstrates. In “The Fab Mind: Hints of the Future in a Shifting World,” an exhibition here, the bowl acts as a prelude to a display of work by the Fixperts. This international network of contemporary designers and makers experiments with recently developed digital tools and ancient craft techniques to customize new objects and repair damaged ones, just as the artisan who fixed the broken bowl did so deftly over a century ago.

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