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Upcycling Philosophy in Japanese Traditional Art

Nowadays, consumption is at the center of our lives, consumption culture is an economic and cultural phenomenon that encourages people to constantly turn to new products and consume existing products quickly, in a “take-use-throw” culture. This has led to the proliferation of fast fashion, disposable products and temporary trends. This intensification of our consumption habits has caused the rapid depletion of natural resources, the increase in the amount of waste and the deepening of environmental problems.

Upcycling, on the other hand, is an approach that aims to reduce the negative effects of consumer culture and promote sustainability, and is the key to sustainability. It refers to the process of giving new life to used products, materials or waste by reusing them. Upcycling also encourages creativity, which brings cultural and artistic enrichment.

When we look back, upcycling is not the miracle of today. It is possible to see reflections of upcycling in the cultures of nations. Japan is a country famous for its rich cultural heritage, and the Japanese traditional handicraft “Boro”, which is an important part of this heritage, refers to the repair and reuse of fabrics that bear the traces of the past. These traces, wear and tear that reflect the texture of time, stains and sewing marks reflect the uniqueness of each boro piece and the story of the past. It is based on the Japanese peasant philosophy of sustainability and resource use. Woven with the magical rhythm of time, Japanese traditional arts, combined with patches that tell their own stories, inspire us even in this age where consumer culture is rapidly transforming. In this journey, upcycling and Japanese traditional arts combine with the patchwork technique of Turkish culture. Patchwork, which blends the frugality and aesthetic understanding of Anatolian women, are the reflections of the upcycling philosophy to today. Patchwork represents the combination of colors and patterns to create a new story. This technique brings together fabrics bearing the traces of the past and gives them a new meaning. Thus, a unique aesthetic unity emerges with the combination of different cultures. This unity allows us to step into a sustainable future by reviewing our consumption habits and waste production.

As a result, this artistic combination between upcycling, Japanese traditional arts and the patchwork technique of Turkish culture offers us sustainability and an aesthetic world bearing the traces of the past. In this journey, we can move towards a more sustainable future by challenging consumer culture, protecting natural resources and using the power of art. Stepping into this unity that honors the traces of the past and shapes the future is possible not only with art but with a philosophy of life. Thus, by challenging the culture of consumption, we can establish a balance between art and sustainability.

Belgin Arit