"One's assessment of an object must be free and unhampered, with nothing between you and the object. You must look directly at it. To decide that a particular piece must be valuable because it has a particular [artist's signature] seal is weak and demeaning. Your assessment only gains meaning when you look at the object directly, free and unfettered."
Sori Yanagi / World-renowned Japanese industrial designer (1915-2011)
Sori Yanagi (Munemichi Yanagi) was born on June 29, 1915 in Harajuku, Tokyo, the first child of Muneyoshi Yanagi (Soetsu), founder of the Mingei movement, and vocalist Kaneko Yanagi.

Thanks to his father, he had many opportunities to see and touch folk art when he was a child, and this helped him acquire his artistic sensibilities.

Yanagi, who loved to draw from an early age, learned about avant-garde art under the influence of Shuzo Takiguchi and was fascinated by its novelty. He decided to go against his father and went into art.
In 1934, at the age of 19, Sori entered the Western painting department of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and became the first Japanese to study at the Bauhaus art school in Weimar Germany.
Under the influence of Takehiko Mizutani, he learned of the existence of the great architect Le Corbusier and became interested in design.
At the age of 25, Sori graduated from the Western Painting Department of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and joined the architectural firm of Junzo Sakakura, a Japanese architect who studied architecture with Le Corbusier.
Thanks to the efforts of Mr Junzo Sakakura, Sori was able to accompany the French architect and designer Charlotte Perriand.
After seeing Charlotte Perrien praise Japanese crafts, Sori himself deepened his understanding of folk art and decided to take up industrial design.
After the war, he founded the Yanagi Industrial Design Research Group (Lab).
The design lab designed everything related to people's lives, including basic necessities such as utensils and furniture, as well as bridges, buildings and graphics.
Yanagi believed that a designer's job is to create high-quality products that are beautiful and suitable for use in everyday life, taking into account various factors such as function, materials and production process.
matsumura series hard ceramics
butterfly stool
elephant stool
Japanese paper pendant lamp
Japanese cookware series
folding chair series
black clay pot
kettle and cooker
In 1980, Sori Yanagi had his first solo exhibition at Milan's Museum of Modern Art, becoming one of the few Japanese designers to gain international recognition. The elephant stool and butterfly stool are regarded as representative designs on the global market.
Galleria d'arte moderna, Milano
The Elephant Stool was announced in 1954 by Sori Yanagi as a sturdy and stable work stool for use in his workshop.
At the time, it was simply called the 'stacking stool' because it was designed to be lightweight, compact and stackable so that it could be easily used even in a small studio.

Using a fibreglass-reinforced plastic called FRP (Fiber Reinforced Plastics), Sori has created a soft curve with a sense of stability in the three legs.
The butterfly stool is a stool manufactured by Sori Yanagi in 1956. It has a simple construction, consisting of two pieces of plywood connected by a metal rod, and is characterised by a curved shape reminiscent of a butterfly spreading its wings.

This stool was born out of a handmade game of cutting, folding and bending paper.
Focusing on the fact that bending plywood increases its strength, Sori came up with the idea of a butterfly stool consisting of two pieces of plywood with an integrated seat and legs connected by metal fittings.
There were originally two types of bowtie stools: the 'tatami zuri' for Japanese-style rooms with flat legs, and the 'four-point support' for Western-style homes.

The designer focused on plywood moulding technology, which was almost unknown in Japan at the time. In 1954, under the guidance of an engineer who researched moulded plywood at Sendai Kōgeishi Dosho, a furniture manufacturer from Yamagata Prefecture was the first in Japan to make practical use of moulded plywood. The chair was completed within almost three years.

In 1957, a year after its launch, the butterfly chair won a gold medal at the Milan Triennale, an international art exhibition held in Milan .

Sori was regarded by others as an 'outcast' who rebelled against his father. But in 1978 he took over as the third president of the Japan Folk Crafts Association, of which his father had previously been the first president.

"I am the one who understands my father best!" he used to say.

His father Soetsu was indifferent to Sori's design work, but showed little interest in "Butterfly Stool" .
Until his death in 2011, Sori Yanagi inherited the Yonobi philosophy, which means 'beauty in practicality', that Soetsu Yanagi embodied in his designs.
beauty in

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