Crafts and national identity

A country that loses its craftsmanship is a country that dies, François Lesage, creative director of a French ornament studio, once said. Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, on the other hand, in his famous "In Praise of the Shadow", goes even further with his vision that if the Orient develops its own scientific civilisation, crafts and industry would develop according to completely different patterns than in the West. This would mean that the utensils surrounding the people on the other side of the globe would take account of national specificity and could therefore look and function quite differently from those we know from our everyday lives. Who knows whether the people in the Orient would not have invented their own equivalent of the aeroplane or the radio. A fascinating vision that makes me look at craftsmanship with even greater respect.

Originality and durability

I am slightly nostalgic and have therefore long been attracted to old, preferably handmade, objects. And since I started renovating old furniture and accessories as a hobby, and realised how much physical effort it takes but also how much pleasure it gives, I have even more respect for them. And being aware of the civilisational challenge of an excess of things in our homes, I can no longer imagine buying mass-produced machine-made goods. All my life I have been a bit of a gusher, recklessly doing laundry and breaking tonnes of cups. Today I have fewer things, buy them more carefully and handle them individually so that nothing breaks. This has also increased my quality of life, I have a sense of purpose and respect for the work of human hands. Works that I wanted to give a worthy place on the pages of nito nito as part of the "Handcraft" cycle.


I remember reading somewhere that the Japanese have an extraordinary gift for turning what we Europeans would like to hide (such as chisel marks in wood) into an aesthetic asset. However, the fine marks left by the hands of a craftsman are nothing compared to the marks of destruction. And even these the Japanese were able to transform into art. We are talking about kintsugi (literally: golden glue) or kintsukuroi or yobitsugi, a Japanese technique for repairing ceramic products using laka and powdered precious metals such as gold, silver or platinum (sometimes also copper and bronze). The result is an object with the characteristic precious "veins" that is not only reusable but also traditionally considered to have a higher artistic value than before it was destroyed.

A reassuring vision for one who respects what he has. The most beautiful (in my opinion) pottery repaired with the Kintsugi technique, examples of which I show in the gallery on the left, are those with subtle gold veins that complement rather than overshadow the original beauty of the object.

Kintsugi, Italian way

Many craft techniques are falling into oblivion, but Kintsugi is becoming better known throughout the world. It is safe to say that it has joined the ranks of the most famous Japanese arts such as ikebana, calligraphy or the tea ceremony. Kintsugi is a compulsory course for a gaijin staying in Japan. Not surprisingly, it inspires other artists who reproduce the technique in other fields, such as fashion like Viktor & Rolf, Amy Nguyen, Haider Ackermann, Chanel or Moschino, or in art like Matt Armstrong, George Inaki Root, Marcantonio Raimondi Malerba or Rachel Sussman, who uses gold to repair ... streets. My latest discovery after reading The New York Times, however, is the Italian jewellery brand Pomellato, which transforms gemstones it once called "the unlucky ones" as they break during manufacturing, into the most valuable stones in the collection, thanks to the Kintsugi technique. The idea to reverse their fate came to the brand's founder, Vincenzo Castaldo, after his trip to Japan in 2019, where he met Maya Higuchi, a Tokyo-based expert in the art of Kintsugi, to whom he proposed a collaboration with the brand. The result is that today Pomellato boasts a balanced approach to jewellery making and an innovative approach to luxury. This effort by Kintsugi is a valuable tip for all other brands thinking about how to use "waste". For the good of their business and ... the whole world.

Kintsugi in pink. I could not have asked for more.