Takumi (匠), literally translated as “artisan,” describes the spirit of craftmanship that pervades Japan’s traditional arts, from screen making to kimono dyeing, from glass blowing to washi paper making. It’s a term that encompasses the sustained dedication to a singular task whose reward is not the product, but the opportunity to share one’s passion.
This enigmatic force that drives master craftsmen and women to dedicate themselves to a singular skillset is not one that is so readily understood in the Western world. It is a motivation that has been devalued since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, a level of commitment that has become increasingly rare in our attention-deficient era. Instead, we’ve come to frame innovation as the product of a sudden insight translated by a sole individual, thereby losing sight of the intimate process of trial, error, and creative iteration that carries the torch of creative expression forward.
In America, for example, it’s often considered that it takes 10,000 hours of study for a person to become a subject matter expert. But in Japan you’re not considered a master of your craft until you’ve spent 60,000 hours (or 30 years) refining your skills. While he former perspective insists such knowledge can be taught, the latter understands that it must be lived.
To be focused and spend countless hours on one thing requires an inner reserve of patience, determination, and, perhaps most importantly, a love for the artistic process and the emotional connection it inspires. With an unfailing sense of pride in the quality of their work, Takumi strive to achieve a level of mastery and meticulousness that conveys their journey, that prioritizes the passing on of generational knowledge and supports the transfer of tradition until it becomes a source of ancestral wisdom and artistry.
Yet the prevailing culture of immediacy has subsequently pushed handworks and traditional crafts to the fringe of our understanding; they’ve been delineated from “design” and “art” proper, diminishing our ability to appreciate the small differences in handmade products as illuminating indications of an artisan’s earned knowledge (aka “wisdom”) and individualized expressions. Still it is the slight nuances of a handcrafted object that can most inspire us. Like doors to an emotional atlas, the subtle details introduce us to previously undiscovered worlds, connecting us to people and places and traditions in ways only art makes available.
Our passion has long been the traditional crafts that are foundational to American, French, and Japanese culture, and we’ve sought to respectfully imbue those influences into all that we make—whether it be the wire core inserts that are made in Japan but feature fine engravings inspired by Native American artistry, or the years of development it took to create our unique 9-barrel hinge. At JMM, we are dedicated to the way of the Takumi, to the belief in the power of creative energy to shape both objects and lives.
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