Saturday, 19 July 2014

On the importance of cleaning your ears

The Shibuya Hikarie 8/ Gallery complex is hosting a show featuring the winners of the Contemporary Chanoyu Awards 2014, a competition focusing on the design of contemporary utensils for the traditional japanese tea ceremony.

Standing proud in the middle of the gallery among the beautiful ceramics, this piece blew my mind.
It took 6 months, 40 people, and the genius of the designer to come up with this room for tea ceremony entirely made of cotton buds.

And the thing is, I could entirely picture myself attending a tea ceremony in this room. Tea ceremony follows a very strict protocol, and the setting for it is very important. The room needs to make you feel calm and relaxed, with little distractive elements (no loud decoration), and a sense a harmony ought to come through it. This cotton bud construction is a brilliant contemporary revisitation of an old tradition. Cotton is cosy, warm, non aggressive. The repetitive pattern within a perfect square is balanced and meditative. The colour white dispenses the element of purity and zen.

This must be one of my favourite snapshots ever. Standing in a tea ceremony room made of cotton buds, me with my Tough Love t-shirt, and the master with a bundle of cotton buds in his hands. Love it!

Price tag for this beauty: 3.000.000 Yen (22.000 Euros, 30.0000$)


  1. This is Brill. and very cheap at less than 1 euro per hour. So if I buy it does the T-shirt come with it? And how will they ship it? Thanks for sharing this project with us. You live in a wonder world.

  2. I sometimes do think I live in a sort of wonder world indeed. Very glad you liked this piece! If you buy it it's like IKEA, they ship the pieces and you put them together :-)) If you do buy it and you invite me for tea the T-shirt will come with it….

  3. This is truly ART!

    p.s. if not for TOUGH LOVE I would get no love at all.

  4. People from Asia do tend to have the dry earwax phenotype. Of course cotton buds are useless on a dry ear. That's why they are left with huge stocks of unused cotton buds that need to be recycled in art pieces.