Lindy's White Plate

Repaired by Yutaka Ohtaki

This simple white platter has, in some ways, recorded Lindy’s adult life. She bought it 25 years ago from a major department store when she first moved out of home. On first sight she knew it would be perfect for the dessert she was making to take to one of her first fancy dinner parties. The plate has hopped from home to home with Lindy ever since. It broke in a house move around a decade ago. She still uses it but disguises the chip with something decorative.

Repairer Yutaka Ohtaki uses kintsugi, a traditional Japanese technique for repairing broken ceramics using ‘urushi’, a plant-based adhesive lacquer resin, decorated with dusted gold particles. Its precise origins are unknown, though there is archaeological evidence of urushi-repaired ceramics and arrowheads as far back as 4000 years ago. Among natural resins and pre- modern adhesives, urushi, a tree sap extracted by tapping the lacquer tree Toxicodendron vernicifluum, is unique because of its superior hardness, strength and resistance to aging and abrasion. In Japan, there are books that have been preserved in their urushi coating for over 1500 years. In contrast to other forms of repair that attempt to hide a history of damage, such as with the use of superglue, kintsugi is a transformative repair craft that uses precious metals to draw attention to the object and revalue its status as repaired.

Design Repairer: Yutaka Ohtaki

Yutaka is the master craftsman of Urushi Ohtaki in Murakami, a lacquerware shop dating back to the Taishō era of the early 20th century.

He graduated from the Design Department of Musashino Art University in 1975, after which he joined the family business. His artworks have been recognized with awards in prestigious exhibitions, including the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition and the Japan Contemporary Craft Exhibition.

Previously Yutaka made abstract and semi-abstract pictorial and sculptural lacquer works, but more recently he has been focusing on traditional Japanese craft, including kintsugi, in which urushitree sap lacquer is used to repair broken ceramics that are then dressed with gold. Yutaka intends to produce “heartwarming” objects that create closer interactions between humans, in their everyday lives, and between humans and nature.

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Lindy's White Plate. Repaired by Yutaka Ohtaki. Photos by Lee Grant. Image copyright Hotel Hotel.