Invisible designers today
A hundred years down the line, I think we can draw a parallel today. Naoto Fukusawa and Jasper Morrison are two like-minded industrial designers working together (Fukusawa is director of the Mingei-kan, handed down from Soetsu Yanagi’s son, Sori – himself a respected industrial designer). Enthusiastically sharing ideas, they have developed the concept of Super Normal, in which the subtle qualities of objects are discovered through use rather than design. What’s interesting to me is their contemporary interpretation of parts of the Mingei philosophy. Just as Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada used to talk about the ‘completeness’ of a pot, Fukusawa and Morrison talk of the ‘completeness’ of industrially produced objects where the design or the designer is invisible. Products are complete only when used, and the ultimate test of a product is “how we age with it” 
The philosophies of Mingei, Supernormal, Bauhaus and Modernism advocate something that is elemental and stripped down. But far from taking anything away, their user-centric approach creates only what is necessary, without waste, as can be seen in the pared back designs of the Ishinomaki Laboratory. Sheridan was first excited by the Bauhaus and Modernist tradition and has created products that have become design classics; today he continues to showcase designs that excite him. In an industry that is swayed by names, reputation and the nature of trends and fashion, SCP is testament to his anchored taste and aesthetics over the last 29 years.
Beauty in the moment
Those five short days in Japan, meeting with people genuinely passionate about their craft stimulated my interest in what it is to be a designer and my quest for true beauty. If I think back to what I’ve found most beautiful so far, I think of moments, not objects. I practice Kyudo, Japanese archery, and am familiar with the idea of zanshin, remaining spirit. It’s the moment just after the arrow is released, the moment that reveals all. A shot without desire, no personality, but with energy and life. The most beautiful shooting is by archers who show no desire to hit the target, but have the right intentions and are full of vitality. I think the idea of ‘remaining spirit’ works with physical objects, both mass produced and crafted. I can see that same energy in Hamada’s description of Eames, and the energy Eames puts into designing each product.
The dynamism of people and the energy they create were very clear during our visit to Japan. At Ishinomaki Laboratory, chance meetings in the extraordinary circumstances of the tsunami had produced a special energy and DIY spirit which permeates their work. Sheridan was excited too by Shotoku Glass, still producing in Tokyo with extremely skilled craftsmen, and the continuing Mingei tradition at the Mashiko potteries. He was able to make meaningful connections with people in Japan who are passionate about similar things. Sheridan’s love and passion for design brought everyone together without any clear end game. But that’s Simplified Beauty: with the right intention, without desire, things should slot into place.
Designer and Co-Curator of Simplified Beauty
 Soetsu Yanagi, The Unknown Craftsman, p97
 Bernard Leach, The Unknown Craftsman, p90
 Jasper Morrison, Super Normal, Sensations of the Ordinary, p111