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Object Timeline

2003

  • Work on this object began.

2013

2015

2017

  • You found it!

Humidifier (Japan), 2003

This is a Humidifier. It was designed by Naoto Fukasawa and manufactured by Plus Minus Zero Company, Ltd.. It is dated 2003 and we acquired it in 2013. Its medium is polycarbonate, polypropylene. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

The purpose of a humidifier is simple: to restore the proper degree of humidity to dry air. In recent years, consumers have increasingly used humidifiers in the home and workplace for health benefits, such as reduced sinus and respiratory problems, and for added warmth in cold dry interiors. Humidifiers function on a simple principle: hold a water supply, heat the water, discharge steam. Manufacturers produce humidifiers in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. For an appliance that is often kept in plain sight, humidifiers tend to be unattractive and are not designed to harmonize with interiors; this is particularly evident in domestic settings.

Naoto Fukasawa’s humidifier has been likened to a drop of water. According to the designer, because there was no single iconic shape that signified “humidifier,” he felt any form would do. He wanted the object to signal that it was a humidifier by having the steam rise from the center of the appliance. He thought that a form based on a receptacle associated with water would be conceptually right: in this case, “a shiny bulblike form like that of porcelain,” since porcelain has a long history of being used for vessels that hold hot liquids.[1] Fukasawa also wanted his design to enrich a space, whether it was in use or not, like a well-designed vase that is aesthetically pleasing whether it is full of flowers or empty. To create a durable plastic humidifier body with a porcelain-like appearance, Fukasawa employs a combination of mass production techniques and hand crafting. The seam where the humidifier’s molded top and bottom sections are joined is smoothed and minimized, the sections are bonded and painted and then the humidifier is polished by hand. The small, glossy, rounded form comes in six colors and is intended to blend into any space.
Fukasawa is an influential industrial designer whose work would enrich the museum’s holdings. The humidifier proposed for acquisition would join a small group of heating and cooling appliances within the collection.
[1] Naoto Fukasawa, Naoto Fukasawa (London: Phaidon, 2007), 76.

This object was donated by Plus Minus Zero Company, Ltd.. It is credited Gift of ±0.

Our curators have highlighted 3 objects that are related to this one.

Its dimensions are

H x diam.: 15.6 x 30.5 cm (6 1/8 in. x 12 in.)

Cite this object as

Humidifier (Japan), 2003; Designed by Naoto Fukasawa (Japanese, b. 1956); polycarbonate, polypropylene; H x diam.: 15.6 x 30.5 cm (6 1/8 in. x 12 in.); Gift of ±0; 2013-31-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/51589569/ |title=Humidifier (Japan), 2003 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=16 December 2017 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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