Not only do his designs blend well with their settings, they are extremely functional and usable. In addition, his designs strictly adhere to the tenets of marketability and production that are the backbone of industrial design. The Elephant Stool is molded out of one sheet of fiberglass, and stacks for storage, display, and shipping. The Butterfly Stool pieces nest together when they are not assembled, making them easy to store and ship, and there is only one part that must be attached to make the stool functional, the brass rod or stretcher that holds the two pieces together. Many of his other designs use these same elements to combine simplicity with ease of production and marketing.
His other designs include many functional pieces that can be mass-produced, just like his stools. They include teakettles made out of metal and stoneware, dinnerware, flatware, and even office products like Scotch tape dispensers. He has even designed ergonomic can openers and letter openers. He also designed the sculptural container for the Olympic flame for the 1964 Olympic Games in Sapporo, and it still stands today. Many of his designs have disappeared during his long and very varied career, but many are still available for viewing throughout Japan. It seems he was interested in many different forms of designs, and had the ability to envision unique uses and shapes for even common items.
Yanagi also uses texture and color as an important part of his design process. Many of his designs are pottery or other types of housewares, and they use shape, texture, and color to add to what could be considered very Spartan designs by many. The texture and color add depth and interest to the pieces, while accentuating their simplicity and functionality. Nothing he designs is "normal," from his lampshades to his flatware. Each item uses a non-traditional shape and texture to make the item more functional and interesting at the same time.
Yanagi's designs still sell well today, which helps illustrate the timeless excellence of their execution. Even though they are over 50 years old, they are still popular and beautiful, and it is clear they can blend with a variety of decors. They do not look dated or out of style at all, which is a difficult feat to accomplish in design. Many designs from the 1950s are outmoded and even laughable today, but Yanagi's designs seem to work in any decade. That is because they are simple and elegant, but also because they use the principles of aesthetics and usability to create products that are easy to use and beautiful to view.
In addition to his most famous stools, Yanagi created everything from flatware to teakettles and even urban designs. He designed many of the benches and other furnishings in the Yokohama City Subway, and created the informational signs at the Nogeyama Zoo, along with a pedestrian bridge near the zoo. He also designed or helped design desk supplies, automobiles, and even sculpture and other forms. He is an all-around designer who has dedicated his life not only to his own works but also to educating others in industrial design so they can carry on his work and make their own mark in the field.
In conclusion, Yanagi's designs are beautiful, timeless, and excellent representations of fine industrial design work. They are works of art, as well as examples of excellent concepts in industrial design. While an artist who produces one work at a time is not an industrial designer, an industrial designer such as Yanagi is certainly an artist. There is a reason his works are housed in the MOMA - they are works of art that represent some of the best modern designs the art world has ever seen.
http://www.dwr.com/designers/?designer_id=166May 8, 2007. http://www.kettererkunst.com/bio/sori-yanagi-1915.shtml. May 8, 2007. http://www.japon.net/yanagi/indexe.shtml. May 8, 2007. http://www.tortoiselife.com/new/itempage/soriyanagi.html. May 8, 2007. http://www.velocityartanddesign.com/syes.html. May 8, 2007. http://www.kettererkunst.com/bio/sori-yanagi-1915.shtml. May 8, 2007. http://www.tortoiselife.com/new/itempage/soriyanagi.html. May 8, 2007. http://www.dwr.com/designers/?designer_id=166.May 8, 2007. http://www.velocityartanddesign.com/syes.html. May 8, 2007.