naoto fukasawa curates ‘ZAKKA – goods and things’ exhibition at 21_21 design sight, tokyo
(above) ‘matsunoya sundries peddler’ matsunoya + norihiko terayama (studio note)
photo by sohei oya / nacasa & partners

 

 

 

ZAKKA – goods and things
21_21 design sight, tokyo
on now until june 5th, 2016

 

 

the japanese term ‘zakka’ is generally interpreted as ‘sundries’ or ‘miscellaneous goods’ in english — of which there are a plethora of that we use throughout our daily lives. however, it is quite difficult to pinpoint exactly what renders something as being ‘zakka’. broken down, the first part of ‘zakka’ — ‘zatsu 雑’ — means ‘things that cannot be categorized’, as well as ‘things that are mixed together with great variety.

 

in a way, ‘zakka’ items and the origins of this ambiguous category are seen as parallel to, and symbolic of, the history of evolving japanese lifestyles. throughout its history, the country and its people have easily adapted and flexibly integrated diverse styles of living, along with new customs introduced from the outside; adapting those changes and incorporating them into a variety of new things that are true to their culture.
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the ‘zakka’ are arranged by common materials or function
photo by sohei oya / nacasa & partners

 

 

 

 

approximately half a century ago, while japan was enjoying a long period of rapid economic growth, ‘zakka’ typically referred to things like kettles, brooms, buckets and other utensils, necessary household items. however, now on the shelves of ‘zakkaya’, or ‘miscellaneous goods stores’, shoppers can find a slew of other items such as brushes, dishes, drinking glasses, knives, stools, and occasionally even food and cosmetics. thus, this retail concept today refers to a far larger number of things than what it originally implied, containing products that customers may not have even imagined they might use, or have any purpose.
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general exhibition view of ‘ZAKKA – goods and things’
photo by sohei oya / nacasa & partners

 

 

 

today, with the internet, individuals are able to obtain things that suit their tastes and sensibilities whenever they want online, and as this trend grows, the retail notion of the ‘zakkaya’ will also continue to change to include or discard certain items. through the act and experience of selecting, buying, using decorating, mixing and matching — hence, we will rediscover the inherent allure of these miscellaneous things, and they in turn will bring joy to our lives, and an essential part of our living spaces.
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up close look at the ‘zakka’ that comprise the exhbition
photo by sohei oya / nacasa & partners

 

 

 

the exhibition ‘ZAKKA – goods and things’ curated by naoto fukasawa, surveys the particularities and sensibilities of the concept of ‘zakka’, and the environments they occupy, considering the mundane and assorted items as a unique culture of their own. bringing varied sundries together in one space, the show draws attention to the appeal of the design and appearance of ‘zakka’, and how it can be defined.
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‘zakka’ defines an assortment of everyday items  — from cutlery to simple electronic appliances
photo by sohei oya / nacasa & partners
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all ‘zaka’: brooms, glasses, jars, kettles, slippers
photo by sohei oya / nacasa & partners

 

 


naoto fukasawa on ‘zakka’:
why are zakka: goods and things so alluring? and what is it that draws us so much to the stores that sell them? this draw may even exceed that of ‘new designs.’ it may be that zakka resonate with people as a symbol of a small measure of happiness built upon a familiarity deriving from their integral status in our everyday lives, the comfort they offer, and the careful attention that has gone into their manufacture. regardless of how useful they are in our actual lives, people are drawn to zakka and feel the urge to make them part of their own lives. it is true that they are just everyday articles, not costly antiques.

 

yet our strong desire to collect them has elements in common with the desire to collect antiques. they exude a sense of how the people that use them live. and we have a natural curiosity about that sense. the people who sell and buy them have a desire to share the perspectives and sensitivities from which zakka are chosen, as well as the flavor of life that zakka engender. it seems to me that zakka have emerged as another category of things that have an allure that is distinct from the allure of design, art, antiques, folkcraft, and handicraft. this is also perhaps one of the reasons that zakka always make us feel nostalgic about times that have passed not too long ago. it occurs to me that they affect emotions associated with relief, always making us feel, ‘that was good.’ people have grown weary of new things and are disoriented by the speed at which the times change. this is why zakka bring us a sense of calm. the purpose of this exhibition is to focus on the aesthetics of zakka as things that appeal to us, and to share our thoughts on their allure.

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a collection of miscellaneous housewares are showcased
photo by sohei oya / nacasa & partners
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installation view of a mock-up of a ‘zakkaya’ — a miscellaneous goods store
‘d mart used – a convenience store’ project by kenmei nagaoka (design activitis) + d&department
daily necessities – things in the possession of which there were more than one, more than necessary, and that were not being used―were collected to make a convenience store
photo by sohei oya / nacasa & partners
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‘ZAKKA – goods and things’ exhibition display
photo by sohei oya / nacasa & partners

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a wall depicts the roots of ‘zakka’, and descriptions for why certain items are categorized in this way
photo by sohei oya / nacasa & partners

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‘hook carpet’ by we make carpets
photo by sohei oya / nacasa & partners

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naoto fukasawa at a wholesaler of sundries at gwangjan market, seoul, south korea