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Burn a Soy Sauce Candle in Tribute to the Late Kenji Ekuan

Soy Sauce Candle
Soy Sauce Candle by Nao Matsumoto mingling with those designed by Kenji Ekuan in the supermarket (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

As condiment containers go, there’s yet to be a design that matches the elegant simplicity of Kenji Ekuan‘s soy sauce bottle. In memoriam of the Japanese industrial designer who passed away this February 8 at the age of 85, Nao Matsumoto created a candle to burn in tribute.

Soy Sauce Candle
Soy Sauce Candle and the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle

Made of soy wax, naturally, and with a hemp wick, the candle is available in the online Spoon & Tamago shop, and was on view earlier this month in their Studio Visits exhibition at hpgrp gallery in Chelsea. According to Ekuan’s New York Times obituary, it took 100 prototypes over three years for the designer to come up with the ideal teardrop form with its anti-drip red cap. Now the Kikkoman dispenser is so ubiquitous as to seem mundane, but when he designed it in 1961 he remembered his mother having to pour cumbersome, large half-gallon bottles. He would design bigger things, from Yamaha motorcycles to the bullet train, while nothing quite so globally iconic as the glass bottle.

The Brooklyn-based Japanese artist Matsumoto’s previous candle crafting includes a burnable AK-47 and an ignitable middle finger candle first used to protest nuclear energy in Japan on the anniversary of the 2011 Fukushima tsunami disaster. Sadly the candle doesn’t smell like soy sauce, although that fermented smell might be distracting to even a slightly famished user, but it does nicely replicate Ekuan’s considered shape in its soft form as it melts in ephemeral waxy memory of the designer.

The Soy Sauce Candle ($35) by Nao Matsumoto is available in the Spoon & Tamago online store.

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