Yasuhiro Suzuki ‘Cabbage Bowl’: Finding objects through metaphor

Analysing an object is truly a powerful thing, it holds the ability to provoke ideas into developing a mere object into a thing that can be admired both form and function.

Part of the ‘Re-design: daily products of the 21st century’ exhibition curated by Kenya Hara, ‘Cabbage bowls‘ by Yasuhiro Suzuki re-evaluates and improves the conventional design of a basic bowl through the re-thinking of it’s design and the thought process of it’s creation. Cabbage bowls is created through the molding of a real cabbage leaf that is coated with paper clay, and is then dried and peeled off. Each leaf individually becomes a dish on its own, and also possesses the ability to form a complete cabbage when placed together as a whole, the bowl like shape of the leaves makes this possible. The design of the cabbage bowls, subtly incorporates a metaphor that seamlessly allows the idea of a cabbage and a conventional bowl to merge together into one. This is due to the many commonalities that both commodities have in the form as well as its function. The curved bowl like shape gives it the ability to hold and store things, on the other hand the stackable nature of the cabbage leaves as well as the bowl allows both objects to gather as a whole or a collection. The white of the porcelain, serves to refrain from being excessive, obvious or ornamental, it additionally helps to convey a sense of clarity and simplicity that leaves the audience feeling a moment of tranquility. It is also believed that the white is used not just as a colour, but also as a design concept that provokes thought, and allows the audience to seek a deeper understanding into the object. Hara states that, “white is not white. The receptivity that senses white is what gives birth to whiteness. So we cannot look for white. We need to search instead for a way of feeling that will sense white. Depending on this search, for the receptivity that senses white, 
we will be able to aim our consciousness towards a white that is a liter whiter than the average white. With that ability, 
we will become conscious of white. And then we will become aware of white enmeshed in an incredible diversity in the world’s many cultures. We will become able to understand words like ‘tranquility,’ or ‘emptiness,’ and discern the meanings dormant within them. As we turn our attention toward white, the world gathers more light, and shadows deepen in degree” (Hara, 2007)Cabbage bowls is a perfect example of the importance to seek the potential in mere objects. This is done through little observations and analysation of an object; it is truly a powerful thing that holds the ability to provoke ideas into developing a mere object into a thing that can be admired both form and function. Suzuki states, “I happened to see drops of water on the leaves of a head of cabbage and noticed that there is a “dish” originally hidden in (the) cabbages. They say the cabbage leaf was “designed” by developing varieties that could be conveniently grown and used in cooking. That made sense to me when I discovered how easily the leaves could be layered over each other.” (Suzuki, 2004)Right hand clipSimilarly, Right hand clip by Gekkoso Gazaiten uses a basic metaphor in the redesign of an object; It shows how the function of an object can lead to the inspiration of another. The inspiration and the design of the object itself isn’t the same, much like the “cabbage bowls” it is successful because of the commonality in its function, that leads the audience to this association. The object is a paper clip that is shaped like hand, its function is to hold papers together by placing a tight yet gentle grasp on to a stack of papers. Similarly our human hands are used to grasp, touch, hold and pick up things, And this is the common ground that this object possesses; they are both able to hold things (together). With this new design it begins to engage the audience through its unique appearance and also breaks the norm of an average paperclip that is often scattered around the house or left behind.

Ultimately, the cabbage bowl is a “thing” that provokes thought, engages aesthetically and begins to express new connotations and associations to something that merely lived to serve the function of holding food; the form breaks the norm of it’s macro of being stacked away in the cupboard and becomes the cabbage bowl that is put on display.