It is a symbol of peace, harmony and mental balance. It stops time or at least slows it down. It soothes. Embraces. Connects. Tea. It has always been on a pedestal in my home. And next to it, the...
I believe that a sense of aesthetics is something that you inherit from your parents. You can master and shape it, but the base must be in your DNA. I believe it was mainly my dad, an artist, an art & paintings expert and a guy with good taste - and weak nerves - who passed his passion for aesthetics and interiors on to me. The lack of our own home and a small area we lived in also had an impact on my future, I think. My dad has never - well, almost never - succumbed to fads, especially that a famous "Emilia" furniture shop in the very heart of Warsaw offered literally nothing pleasant to the eye. He was definitely impressed by Sweden and UK nthough, where he worked for a while. And so he suffered torments of an aesthete who had to look at ugliness every day, but whenever there was a chance, he fought back, admiring the city of Warsaw which had started to change faster and faster after 1989.
I haven't felt comfy as a child with the white furniture that we had, when my friends’ parents, owners of patterned Turkish carpets and heavy leather sofas looked at us with amazement. My parents didn't allow me blend in with peers and so I had a white Japanese walkman, while others had black ones, a creamy white woollen carpet, while others had dark pattern-rich "Persian" ones, and a white round (!) table at home. And a lot of art and antiques, part of which I once brought to school for Christmas without asking for permission, as a gift for the baby Jesus from the Three Kings, for frankincense and myrrh, ha ha. Given that my mother is a pragmatist - although it would be untrue to say only a pragmatist, because she obviously has a sense of aesthetics too - I got quite a lesson in applied arts at home.
Then came the Japanese culture and language studies, and a study of the first contacts of the Japanese with the “Western” culture, a stay in Japan, professional work, lots of travels, and my maturation as a person. I have a photographic memory, so the images I once saw stay in my head forever, interpenetrating, organising into families and segregating by colour. I value all diversity, handicraft, natural materials, objects with history, and above all, secondary circulation. I am resistant to fads, although I do follow them closely. I love minimalism, but I also love the madness of colours. I'm afraid that my condition with regards to that "deteriorates" day by day. I am inspired by absolutely everything I see, smell and hear. I don't return from any trip, even a business one, without a pile of local interior design press and a souvenir, usually handmade jewellery or a piece of home furnishings. I also won't miss any antique shop or handicraft studio, whether I'm in New Kawkowo - a very small village in Eastern Poland - or Paris.
My inner aesthetic "radar" guides me through life sensing elements of Japaneseness in unobvious places, situations and projects. And here comes a small but obligatory disclaimer from me as an expert in Japanese culture. I know that, contrary to popular beliefs, there is no such thing as a "Japanese aesthetic". Just as there is no completely homogeneous country and society. Many claim that what we know as traditional Japanese aesthetic categories is in fact an artificial creation, much younger than we might think, being some kind of an interpretation of ancient literary works prepared for specific political purposes related to building a specific image and national identity of Japan - today we would say "national branding" - during the Meiji Restoration. Even if the so-called Japanese aesthetics was (or maybe still is?), a PR project, it was certainly very successful. A strong and coherent message, which was and still is a source of inspiration for artists of all kinds, including myself.
What I refer to in the pages of nito nito is my subjective selection of interiors and objects that delight me, and selection of values, elements of Japanese style or aesthetics, which were once named and categorised, and I organoleptically discovered them in Japan and other parts of the world. At the same time, I am fully aware that I represent a team of somewhat idealistic and nostalgic lovers of Japan. And I give myself full permission to be such a person. I don’t want to and will never elaborate on the existence of the so-called Japanese aesthetics, on the way it was born or debate how much real "Japaneseness" there’s in it. The fact is that Japaneseness just can’t be confused with anything else, I love it and it’s a serious relationship. Sorry not sorry.