Gomi is a slang word meaning trash or junk. It’s originally a Japanese word for dust or garbage, but it’s now used to describe anything that we discard or no longer value. It was introduced to English speakers by the best selling fiction writer, William Gibson, who is also credited with coining the term “cyberspace” back in the 1980’s. Gibson used the word gomi frequently to describe the near-future dystopia of our material culture gone haywire.


“Rubin, in some way that no one quite understands, is a master, a teacher, what the Japanese call a sensei. What he’s the master of, really, is garbage, kipple, refuse, the sea of cast-off goods our century floats on. Gomi no sensei. Master of junk.”       

From The Winter Market © 1986 William Gibson

This quote describes a possible near future – One not very difficult to imagine. It is a world in which the monumental amounts of trash overtake the landscape to become the soil upon which humans build our lives. Where does the gomi stop and the world begin, he asks. Gibson describes the artist Rubin as working with these discarded things without acknowledging them as his defined palate of materials. He doesn’t refer to them as junk, or found objects. They are simply his medium, the air he breathes, the tides in which he’s always swum. The materials are the common, the base, the unimportant. They were once raw materials, turned useful as technology, discarded as trash, to be rediscovered by the eye of the artist, this time as the building blocks for works of art. In this truly inspired way, the medium is indeed the message.

GOMI voids the warranty. GOMI breaks the rules. But GOMI is responsible.

GOMI strives to give renewed life and purpose to existing materials and technologies, so it is obviously pro-recycle and pre-cycle, but it is not anti-consumer. GOMI materials were consumer goods – perhaps they’re past their obvious prime, but still useful and viable to the creative eye. 

GOMI has skepticism for much of the mainstream corporate greenwashing currently in vogue.

GOMI doesn’t want to turn back the clock and “return to nature”. Just the opposite, It is a decidedly urban mindset, reflecting a forward-thinking cyberpunk aesthetic. It’s the young trench coat hacker kid, and it’s also the phenom founder of this week’s “it” IPO. GOMI can segue from Burning Man to the boardroom without difficulty.

GOMI is DIY. GOMI endorses off-grid living and disaster preparedness. As recent events have shown, one should expect to be self-reliant for an extended period of time regardless of one’s location. A survivalist mentality is just as necessary in the city as way out in the boonies. 

GOMI is tech-positive and sees the benefits of continued technological development. As more new and interesting technologies become available, the ways to rethink their usefulness also expands. It’s the unexpected secondary uses of a technology that feeds GOMI. Cars, motorcycles and other vehicles, energy production, the evolution of humanity, personal technology and the Internet – All of the things that we can’t live without are embraced by GOMI. I.e. Vehicles can be greener, energy can be off-grid, our bodies and lives can be enhanced, etc … GOMI doesn’t say, “Cars are bad”. GOMI says “you can make your car better”.

GOMI is an aesthetic choice – your best defense against mindless mediocrity.


9 Responses to “Gomi Manifesto”

  1. johngomi Says:

    hey, ya’ll drew similar thoughts from the same places we have. we had a shop called gomi in austin since ’99 anyway, i’m liking you to our website. YA’ LL ARE AWESOME!!!!

  2. Amy Says:

    Hey! I want to see the solar hot tub in the old truck bed! I love old trucks and want to see if my hubby can make me one of these! Let me know!

  3. Kathy Brenner Says:

    Your DIY chess set is a wonderful idea. I am making the chess pieces with my son’s second grade class they are a bunch of big time gamers. Would someone please send me a printable list of all the parts. I know that when going to home depot/Loews I am going to be scratching my head trying to figure this out myself. It would make my life so much easier-and much more enjoyable.
    Thanks so much for the fantastic idea. We are going to make the board out of tile and sell this at the schools auction in March to the highest bidder! You guys/Gals are the best. Take care.

  4. Arbisi Says:

    This is amazing!!! I have found my tribe!!! I’ve been embarassing my family for years slamming on my brakes in front of trash on the curb because I saw something (potentially) awesome. I love making art from stuff — anyone can go buy a pre-fab project, but it takes a truly creative mind to see the beauty in the outcast. And heart and soul to bring it forward. I just never knew it had a name!!! I LOVE IT!!!

  5. […] written about Gomi Style before – a movement aimed at creatively reusing ‘waste’. As per their manifesto, their […]

  6. Darice McGough Says:

    Do you have instructions for the cardboard chair (lounge type)?

  7. N B Says:

    “Rubin as working with these discarded things without acknowledging them as his defined palate of materials…” An artist uses a palette of colours. Your ‘palate’ is your sense of taste. Perhaps a deliberate mistake?

      1. mdj Says:

        N B is talking about palette vs. palete

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