Woodwork by Kobayashi Katsuhisa in our shop ->
These beautiful Shaker-style tea boxes are made by Kobayashi Katsuhisa, a woodware and furniture maker from Okayama, Japan.
I met Kobayashi-san at a craft show in Himeji in May. He has been making Shaker-style oval boxes for several years now, and feels that the Shaker design philosophy has truly helped to instill in him the importance of restraint in his creative process.
The Shakers were the pioneering masters of simple and utilitarian design, which is the heart of mingei as mentioned in our previous blog post. The Shaker creations, including the oval boxes that were first made over 200 years ago, are the very embodiment of their famous tenet that “beauty rests on utility”.
Putting “beauty rests on utility” into practice is not easy. Kobayashi-san believes that perhaps the most important aspect that a woodworker needs is the ability to resist the temptation to be individualistic, which too often results in unnecessary form that serves no purpose. These simple yet comfortable chairs that he makes are models of utilitarian beauty.
Making oval boxes requires much skill and patience. Kobayashi-san faithfully follows the Shaker design from the swallowtail fingers to the copper tacks securing the wood. To him, the Shaker oval box design is a perfect form that should not be altered.
Meeting Kobayashi-san made me realize that a good design has no boundaries. It speaks a universal language that is understood throughout different generations and cultures on opposite sides of the world. In this sense, the Shaker design is a unique and extremely valuable American cultural treasure and heritage, whose spirit can even be found in the heart and workshop of a quiet and talented Japanese woodworker.
Kobayashi-san’s Shaker-style tea boxes are available at our shop.