The Japanese philosopher and aesthete's definitive, hugely influential exposition of his philosophy of folkcrafts, setting out the hallmarks of Japanese design as we know it today - anonymity, quality, simplicity and honesty - and, of course, wabi-sabi, the beauty of imperfection.
Soetsu Yanagi (1889 - 1961) was a philosopher, art historian, aesthete and poet. He evolved a theory of why certain objects made by unknown craftsmen were so beautiful, and became the founding father of the Japanese folk crafts ('mingei') movement. He helped establish, and was the first director of, the Japanese Folk Crafts Museum.
It would not be entirely amiss to describe Yanagi's position in
Japan as comparable to that of Ruskin and Morris in England ... He
left as a legacy an aesthetic and religious creed of vital
importance to men and women all over the world -- Bernard Leach
What impresses me most in Yanagi is the strength of his vision, his direct eye for beauty. His was an immediate and intuitive faculty of an extraordinary kind -- Shoji Hamada
Radical and inspiring ... Yanagi's vision puts the connection between heart and hand before the transient and commercial -- Edmund de Waal
Soetsu Yanagi's unerring eye has influenced generations of makers. His notion of Zen and the art of design continues to inspire all those involved in shaping our everyday world -- Jasper Morrison