Wabi-Sabi Japanese Brass Tape Dispenser


It is no coincidence that this brass object was produced in Takaoka, a town, also home to the 3rd largest Japanese bronze Buddha statue, 16m high and 65 tons heavy, made by local craftspeople in the 1930s. Actually Takaoka accounts for 90% of all copperware and brass craft items made in the country, principally religious paraphernalia, such as temple bells, buddhist altars and lanterns.

With changing lifestyles, demand for these objects has declined significantly jeopardising this traditional trade's very existence. In a radical change, the foundry responsible for this tape dispenser, established in 1897, is now producing a range of design objects for the home to great acclaim. More significantly, where Buddhist lights used to be made highly polished, plated and even painted, the foundry now embraces what can be appreciated as a Zen approach to design: allowing for the self-expression of the brass material's barest characteristics. An alloy of zinc and copper, brass is molten onto fine a sand mould, and presented Ihada meaning in a naked and raw state. Bar minimal polish to smooth over sharp edges, the brass is left untreated, no antioxidants are applied. The surfaces' irregular skin like texture is allowed to live - forever evolving in colour and oxidation with use and contact with hands and air. 

Hats off to the foundry and its craftspeople for making this brave choice, un-learning their classical craft, practiced for 100 years, renewing their craft with a breath of inspired modernity. It is however sometimes harder to execute and learn the balance of making something in an unfinished and imperfect state, where there is no rule book, no manual's guide - when to stop, where to exercise restraint, when to allow the material to do talking? Minimalism isn't easy. 

No other notion seems more appropriate than the Buddhist aesthetic notion of Wabi-Sabi when describing this object, brilliantly executed and especially relevant given the foundry's deep link to religious practice. This is the foundation of Japanese artistic sensibility - an appreciation for economy, modesty, austerity, intimacy, irregularity and integrity - the idea of finding beauty in the quiet moments, in the flaws, in the expressions of impermanence such as patina and wear. Bring a little of this philosophical notion to your desk by way of this beautiful raw object. 

Takes large core tape rolls, up to 19mm wide - sold at Choosing Keeping in magic invisible finish or clear cellulose finish. 

12 x 15.6 x 4.5 cm
Material: Brass
Tape Width: Up to
Pictured tape not included