Why is there such a voracious consumer appetite for miniature things, for instance like teeny pieces of sushi and bottles of saki, tiny clothing, furniture, pots, pans and appliances — dozens of quotidian objects? It stumps me, and I hoard lots them. Mostly my favorites come from Japan. So, I asked the designer/illustrator Naomi Otsu, who recently returned from Tokyo, where she nurtured her mini-habit by stocking up on mini chairs, if she had a theory as to why there is such reverence and obsession for these itsy-bitsy simulacrum. (Although I used a different word.)
“I looked up to see if Japanese people had an answer to why they loved minis,” she told me. “Although there wasn’t a specific answer, there are some interesting theories …
“— Japanese people don’t have a lot of space in their house so they end up liking tiny things (this one made me laugh).
“—Japan has economically come to a place where people are able to have hobbies and enjoy things outside of work.”
Maybe it is related to Netsuke, traditional small, palm-sized ornaments, usually carved from boxwood or ivory.
But I’ll go the less-artistic route: I propose that in our hardwiring, anything small has appeal (like a newborn baby, puppy, pony or frog—or the original Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper). We can control miniatures (unless they are microscopic).
My personal favorite is the scale-model modern furniture, especially the designer chairs that are manufactured in numerous sizes. Newly acquired are the miniature pen and pencil sets that actually work (if your fingers are nimble).