22 March, 2022
We recently had the luxury of welcoming Sori Yang's sleek silverware line on board at Provider Store. To celebrate we decided to commemorate the legacy of the designer and his works.
Sori Yanagi’s story starts with his father, Seotsu Yanagi, one of the founders of “mingei” (Japanese folk craft). Soetsu also helped to establish the Nihon Mingeikan, the Folk Crafts Museum of Japan. The philosophical pillar of mingei is “hand-crafted art of ordinary people,” a principle Sori would continue in his work.
Sori entered Tokyo Art School in 1934 where he studied both art and architecture. He worked closely with French architect Charlotte Perriand (designer of the renowned Chaise Longue LC4) as her translator while she was in Tokyo in the early 1940s. Spending so much time in Charlotte’s studio he would learn about European modernism and product design firsthand and become more interested in industrial design rather than paintings and buildings.
In 1952 Sori would open his own Tokyo design studio where Yanai would bring together Japanese tradition and modern western principles when designing many of the products he is now known for. This is readily apparent in his most well known design, the Butterfly Stool, which combines Japanese aesthetics with folded plywood which is an industrial woodworking technique developed by American designers Charles and Ray Eames. This piece would win him a gold prize at the Milan Triennial XI and is included in major collections such as the Museum of Modern Art New York and the Ruble Museum. Yanagi would also receive the honour to design the official torch for the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan.
Sori Yanagi’s legacy, though understated, is indisputable in both the field of furniture and kitchenware. Many of his designs and principles are still in use today, ultimately transcending his name very much in line with his father’s philosophy.