Sori Yanagi, Father of Japanese Industrial Design

When we talked about Japanese design, the name of Sori Yanagi came to mind first. This contemporary Japanese craftsman, who is most admired, has abundant output, and is highly valued internationally, advocates to feel the harmony between objects and people through his hands, eliminate miscellaneous decorations, and create the most "practical beauty" of simple artifacts. He is one of the founders of modern industrial design in Japan and the first group of Asians to be recorded in the history of design in the West.


When it comes to Sori Yanagi, we have to mention his father, Liu Zongyue. He is neither a designer nor a craftsman, but a Japanese esthetician and folk art theorist. He put forward five principles of folk arts (practicality, materials, technology, mass production, good quality and low price), which deeply affected Sori Yanagi. At the same time, he is also known as the "father of folk arts"

Sori Yanagi strongly insisted on "hand" design, instead of drawing design drawings, he directly made plaster models of real size by hand. For this reason, it often takes up to one or two years or even more to make a utensil. "It is something that the hand should use, so of course it should be designed by hand!" Sori Yanagi believes that design should really start from "use", and use your hands to hold, caress, think and correct. "If you feel with your hands, you will have an answer." Therefore, the beauty of Sori Yanagi's artifacts is not only the beauty of the form and visual appearance, but also integrates into the life without trace. After years, a little bit of touching gives a long feeling.


When people first saw Sori Yanagi's household utensils, they felt that they were plain and simple. When they really used them in their hands, they would find that this simplicity was not rigid and monotonous in geometric form. Every radian, turning point and detail showed their consideration of "practicality", thus emitting endless charm. At the same time, his works are well known to us.

01 Butterfly stool

Sori Yanagi's most familiar work is the butterfly stool published in 1956. Two pieces of bent and shaped plywood are connected reversely and symmetrically through an axis. The connection is fixed under the seat with screws and copper rods. This shape is like a pair of butterfly wings being flapped, so it is named "butterfly stool". Inspired by the molded plywood furniture designed by Eames and his wife, Sori Yanagi created this butterfly chair, which was produced by Tiantong woodworker in Yamagata County. The next year, he won the gold medal in the Milan Triennial Exhibition. This work has made Sori Yanagi famous all over the world, and was elected as the permanent collection of MoMa in 1958.


The butterfly chair, which won the gold medal in the Milan Design Exhibition in 1957, is a landmark work of Sori Yanagi. It is made by Tiantong woodworker, a Japanese traditional woodworking workshop, and is permanently collected by MoMa. He said: "I think industrial design should not be just the design of appearance. Without revolutionary innovation, it is worthless. Revolutionary creativity, of course, can only be produced after many down-to-earth experiments."

02 Elephant stool

In 1954, Sori Yanagi also designed an elephant chair. In order to facilitate the use in the limited space, the newly developed fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) was specially used to make it lightweight and easy to store. The slightly convex seat surface and thick stool feet can carry the weight of the human body as calmly as an elephant. The supporting radian is comfortable, simple and functional. In 2000, the Swiss company Vita also invited Tom Dixon, a design wizard, to make a copy of the environmental protection polypropylene (PP) object chair. Nowadays, it has gained worldwide reputation and is more widely used in families and public places.


Sori Yanagi believed that the aesthetics of life started from utensils, so he designed many kitchen appliances. A series of stainless steel products are welcomed and loved all over the world. He insisted on "hand" design and made plaster models by hand. Therefore, it often takes up to a year or two or even more to make a utensil.

03 Stainless steel kettle

The stainless steel kettle is the first design in Sori Yanagi's kitchen supplies series. At first glance, it doesn't make any difference, but when you pick it up, it makes a big difference.

The arc part of the water injection nozzle is manually welded, making it extremely difficult. Moreover, the handle of a pot has been repeatedly designed. As long as you move your finger or wrist a little, you can pour water out, and the water yield is also very easy to control.


04 Kitchenware

The design more than 50 years ago still looks classic and avant-garde. Under the simple function, the appearance is very delicate. For example, in order to make it easier for people to ladle soup, the spoon is designed wider than the ordinary spoon.


05 Tableware

The tableware designed by Sori Yanagi has always been a popular commodity in Japan. The reason is probably that there is no gorgeous and pompous modeling and decoration, and there is no small creativity that is not practical yet. Some are solid materials, sizes calculated repeatedly and practical and beautiful shapes.

Although this stirring rod is a thin steel rod, it is also designed by Sori Yanagi after repeated calculation. You can experience the subtlety by yourself~


06 Egg Beater

The detail of this egg beater is that the bottom is round, and every arc is just right. Compared with ordinary egg beater, it is not only more convenient to use, but also easy to clean.


07 Sori Yanagi Iron Pot

A master of the basic food expo is called the best partner of "one person food".


08 White porcelain soy sauce bottle

The head is designed in the shape of a bird, showing an elegant posture, which is a representative work of Sori Yanagi's design sense.


09 Coffee cup

Semi porcelain is a kind of material specially made by Sori Yanagi. It is stronger than ceramics and lighter than porcelain. Rounded square design, more grip in use.


Finally, another wave of his other classic designs.








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