Designed using motifs taken from patterns found in zen gardens, Kenji Abe’s ‘Cage’ holds a single incense cone within its hollow interior, scattering its dense, aromatic smoke in a unique geometric pattern. However, its eye-catching appeal extends far beyond the lifespan of the incense cone, looking alluring as a regular desk object too.
The cage-like incense stand comes in two varieties – a bell-shaped variety and a dodecahedral variety. Both shapes are categorized by the use of parallel lines that intersect to create a geometric allure that looks great on its own, but even better when it has smoke passing through it. Each incense stand consists of the zen-inspired metal outer cage, and a circular base that actually holds the incense cone. To light a cone, simply lift the cage up, place the cone on the disc-shaped holder, light it, and put the cage back. Thick smoke from the lit cone will then billow through the slits in the cage, allowing the smoke to create a geometric form as it exits the cage, before scattering into its randomized pattern.
The lattice structure found on both CAGE designs takes its inspiration from the patterns found in zen sand gardens. The methodical patterns made on the sand were a way to help Buddhist monks engage in meditative activity. The incense holder evokes the same sort of tranquil state in people, with its combination of geometric design and the aroma of the incense burning underneath.
“This incense holder is crafted using sukashibori, an openwork technique used in the creation of traditional incense holders”, says designer Kenji Abe. The two incense cages were created for ifuki, a copper-product brand based out of Takaoka City, a rural town with 400 years of metalworking history.