The Japanese have made repair an art form. Kintsugi, the art of repairing ceramics, and Sashiko for mending fabrics create beauty in something broken such that what is repaired takes on a whole new identity.
In several conversations this week, we have talked about the sense we have of things subtly changing, as though important aspects of the way we live and work are being rewired.
It feels like alchemy is at work, as though normal is dissolving, and what is emerging is not yet clear. The relationship with work is affected for many, as the pandemic created a need to improvise. Working from home, the suspended animation of furlough, or having the reality of the work we do brought into our consciousness. As we learn how to manage a virus that will be with us long-term, people are re-engineering their lives.
How, I wonder, can we take what has broken and apply the spirit of Kintsugi and Sashiko to take the pieces and reassemble them into something beautiful. Something that takes the broken and frayed elements of our obsession with scale, efficiency and performance to make something altogether more human?
The industrial era replaced craft with process and individuality with homogeneity.
Perhaps we can bring craft back and repair our relationships with our work and each other.