• Product Development
Products Created by Three Groups of Creators with Their Creative Use of Domestic timber – in the Combination of Wood Materials, Color, and Diversity

Outline

Loftwork Inc., carried out the project “WOOD CHANGE CHALLENGE” aiming to support the creation of demand and expansion of the use of domestic timber from November 2020 to March 2021. In Japan, while the timber self-sufficiency rate is as low as approximately 38% (as of 2019), more than half of the planted forests are in the 10 ring-class (50 year-old) or older. In order to promote sustainable forest development while utilizing the abundant timber and other forest resources, it is mandatory that we start focusing on the proactive use of domestic timber.

The two projects we worked on along with this idea were the “WOOD CHANGE AWARD”, an idea award that utilizes domestic timber, and the “WOOD CHANGE CAMP”, in which creators from different fields refine their ideas and create prototypes. From Hidakuma, three production members joined as “wood directors” and participated in CAMP to support the creators.

The three creator teams seek clues and challenges for production from their respective perspectives. As the participants in CAMP became more interested in the project on a personal level, and some members visited Hida privately to actually see the forest, deepening their understanding of timber distribution, procure materials, and conduct experiments. Each of the three completed works contains ideas for boldly changing the use of domestic timber, and has great potential to stimulate curiosity on the forest and raise interest in trees.

In this article, we will introduce the works of three teams and share some of the stories from two teams who visited Hida.

[Project overview]

  • Support content: Production support and wood material coordination
  • Period: January-March 2021
  • System:
    Project sponsor: Loftwork Inc.
    Production: MULTISTANDARD, Playfool, Yuma Kano (studio yumakano)
    Mentor: Daisuke Motoki (Architect, DDAA / DDAA LAB representative), Naoki Ono (“Advertising” editor / Hakuhodo monom representative / YOY president)
    Production support, Wood material coordination:
    Hideaki Asaoka, Chikako Kadoi, Kousuke Kuroda (From Hidakuma)
    Support: Hida Mori no Megumi, Mishima Japanese Candle Shop, Hida Shokunin Sekatsu, Yanagi Mokuzai (Woodshop)

Outputs

《chopping》MULTISTANDARD

The stool named “chopping” was created by MULTISTANDARD with four designers. The focus was on the current sawing process for standardizing logs. The straight line created by artificial sawing and the fiber shape created by organically chopped wood are aligned back to back. “Chopping” stands somewhere between artificial and natural forms of wood.

《Forest Crayons》Playfool

The pigment Playfool has chosen to use on “Forest Crayons” was tree that could not be used as furniture or building materials for various reasons, or a deciduous tree containing bark and mushroom fungi. If you extract the characteristics of the tree as the color of the crayon, you can see that the color of the tree is full of variety. Even with the same tree species and materials, it is not possible to consistently create the same color. And this works offer enjoyment of such varieties.

《Forest Bank》Yuma Kano|studio yumakano

Material “Forest Bank” was created by designer Yuma Kano. Twigs and bark, which are normally difficult to add value, as well as wood chips generated during sawing and humus in the forest, are processed by mixing with water-based, organic solvent-free acrylic resin. Focusing on both sawn timber as well as the diverse values ​​of the forest itself, this material can be processed in the same way as regular timber.

Process

“Hida Camp” to Explore the Tree Colors

Playfool, and the wood director of Hidakuma, Kosuke Kuroda, started the experiment campu in Hida, after having reached on how they create “Forest Crayons” – crayons with colors from forest materials. In the actual camp, Playfool compared the drawing texture of crayon prototypes made from different materials such as Japan wax and beeswax. They also checked to see if the size of the material made a difference in the scent. In Hida, we looked for “sticky materials” in the forest through continuous research to find good materials for crayons. They also asked for hints from local candle stores, and shared the results they each discovered.

In February, the Hida training camp was held with a short notice considering the time pressure on production schedule. We visited Hida forest and a sawmill in order to pursue various colors of the forest. In the forest, branches and the blue mushroom “Green Cup fungus” are collected. At the lumber yard, we collected colors from firewood.

Hida's Japanese candle shop gets to see our prototype.

After that, the team stayed in the FabCafe Hida workshop and turned the collected materials into powder. Based on the obtained pigment, it was formed into crayon, and each color of crayon was compared. At the end of the camp, nine colors of crayon were produced out of the forest materials.

Searching for Shapes in the Forest. New Materials Process with Local Craftsperson.

Why are domestic timbers not presently used, and is it good for forests to use a lot of wood in the first place? Yuma Kano and Chikako Kadoi, the tree director of the Hidakuma, consciously returned to these fundamental questions in order to solidify the concept. As part of embodying these fundamentals, Hidakuma provided many samples from various places. Samples include wood and branches, bark, cedar and cypress leaves as well as soil from lumber yards, sawmills, all from the forest of Hida mountains.

Mr. Kano aimed to express the value of the forest in this work, rather than consuming a large amount of wood. During his stay in Hida he visited the forest, lumber yard, sawmill, and the Hida Earth Wisdom Center, which promotes regional development with the theme of folk culture. He gathered all ideas including the shape of the material born from the forest and the culture of furniture making from his visit.

Hida Earth Wisdom Center is a great place to be exposed to different aspects of forest.

After the visitation to the Center, the team visited Mr. Hisatoshi Katada, a local furniture craftsperson and Hida Shokunin Seikatsu (craftsman shop), and checked the new material samples mixed with wood material and water-based acrylic resin – checking the possibility of processing this new material with machines such as band saws and woodworking lathes. In the end the efforts were worthwhile – a wide variety of silhouettes appeared on the cut section.

Through the productions with each creator in this project, Hidakuma members were inspired by researching and procuring materials that they had not handled before and conducting experiments. Hidakuma appreciates the new networks that have developed through this project, as well as the knowledge and experiences gained from “WOOD CHANGE CAMP”, and hopefully we will be able to work together with the team in the near future.

Members

Satoko Kitajima
Loftwork Inc.,
Creative Director / Design Evangelist
She majored in Graphic Design at the Tokyo Zokei University, and immediately after graduation, started working at Loftwork Inc. Making most of his inherent creativity , she is responsible for the direction of a wide range of projects, from introduction of CMS for medium to large sites, starting with content creation for a major community website to an art museum website, as well as production planning for iPhone applications.

MULTISTANDARD
“Multi-standard”, consists of four Tokyo-based designers, does not present the optimal solution required by society, but uses a new perspective as a tool to function in the design and give shape to the idea as their main focus of their work. The team of four explores some possibilities for the diverse lives of the future, using materials, processes, and contexts as clues.

Playfool
A creative pair as a unit with Daniel Coppen and Saki Coppen. Both completed the Royal College of Art and started work in 2018. They work on creative projects in different segments of fields with a mission of creating free play to lead to releasing of creativity. Have received many awards at home and abroad.
Website: https://studioplayfool.com/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/Playfool/about

Yuma Kano
Design Director / Designer
Yuma Kano, born in 1988 in Japan. Graduated from the department of design at Tokyo Zokei University. Founded studio yumakano after working as an assistant to artist Yasuhiro Suzuki. Based out of Tokyo in what wasOnce a shipyard in the mid-19th century, bringing the old environment to life through product design, product planning, Aims to inspire a fun, creative world where everyone.brand direction, interior planning, artwork, and other projects. is able to find new possibilities by exploring unnoticed aspects of the everyday. Received major awards including; Good Design Award, IFFT Young Designer Award, German Design Award.
https://yumakano.com/

Hideaki Asaoka
Works at Hidakuma Co., Ltd. Born in Hida City, Gifu. After graduating from Nagoya University of the Arts, he experienced furniture making and design at furniture makers and interior design offices. He participated in Hidakuma in 2016, being in charge of a wide range of projects including product development, design, production, and construction. With a wide range of knowledge on wood and deep respect for craftsmanship, he continues to make great efforts every day to add new value to the wood.

Kousuke Kuroda
Wood Creative Director at Hidakuma Inc.,
Born in Osaka. While studying architecture and woodwork at university, Kuroda got interested in the phenomenon of light, which inspired him to go to Finland to study the design of furniture and lighting.Then, joined Hidakuma in 2019, who treats the material of wood beyond furniture, and is heavily involved in the forest matters. Kuroda’s aim is to create new things and values by adjusting or connecting the balance among matters such as people and materials, digital and analog. He values every daily life, and enjoys walking and looking for good music.

Chikako Kadoi
Hidakuma Inc.
Forest Creative Director
Completed the Department of Inter-media Art, Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. Ms. Kadoi has multiple experiences in event decoration, store interior space design and communication design at a space design company. She joined Hidakuma, whose wish is to create a  “forest rich enough for bears to dance happily”. She is fascinated by the long-term communication of the relationship between people and the forest, as well as the community and value development that the company aims at. She dreams of dancing with a bear.

Member's Voice

Forest Crayons is a product filled with experiences that allow you to discover, create, and play various charms that you create.
Since powder is the main material, not only wood but also leaves, branches and flowers can be used as materials.
Putting existing timber distribution channels such as building materials and furniture materials on a side, Forest Crayons’ production process is full of potential for ultimate cascade use, and it was exciting to discover new things through trial and error. It was an area of project that had never been touched upon before.
When the crayon with the forest materials reaches the hands of various people across genders and ages, I hope that the new way to approach connecting the next person and the forest may emerge through new images that the crayon has to offer.

Kousuke Kuroda
Wood Creative Director at Hidakuma Inc.,

We covered many stories and topics, only the story of the forest, but also the story of the river, the sea, and the surprisingly beautiful plastic trash that flows there. So we were hoping to transform the existing image of the relationship between trees and people, and the material itself of wood. Forest Bank was completed through this mission in collaboration with Mr. Kano.
Every time we shave, a new cross section comes out, I can see a new expression at an angle different from what I would not normally see, and my imagination goes off further to what the back and front of the cross section would look like. I am looking forward to seeing these materials that express wood and forest to be part of various spaces in the future.

Chikako Kadoi
Hidakuma Inc.
Forest Creative Director

Written by Takeya Shida
Photography: Shot by Kusk

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