Floating Washi Spaces
My name is Nakamura, and I have a lot of work to do at the beginning of the year, and I'm feeling a little distracted and overwhelmed. I usually make washi accessories, but I am also involved in various other washi-related work.
Today, I would like to talk about one such work related to washi, gikakushi.
This work was done in collaboration with Nomura Kogeisha, a space design company.
The content of the project was to create a floating washi space.
The showroom of Nomura Kogeisha in Shanghai is designed so that the washi floats in the air, showing how washi is born from the raw material, kozo (paper mulberry), and eventually transformed into pseudo-leather paper.
The project was delayed for several months due to the first declaration of a state of emergency for a COVID-19 infection, but it was completed successfully (until the export, the atelier was full of things related to washi).
100% indigo-dyed fake leather paper that does not fade
First, a brief explanation of fake leather paper...
To put it simply, fake leather paper is a type of Japanese paper that resembles leather and is generally believed to have been first manufactured in 1684. I started working on the development of fake leather paper around 2014, and completed it around 2016, by combining the various techniques of Kyoto craftsmen with Japanese paper, which has characteristics such as not fading, not tearing, and being tougher and more durable than leather.
The designer of Nomura Co., Ltd. was interested in the paper and adopted it for the renewal of the Shanghai showroom.
As a person who loves to do things that have never been done before, I was very pleased with the decision. However, since there was no precedent for this project, I was worried about how I could do it, but I remembered what my daughter and I used to say when we were faced with difficulties: "First, try it.
A bundle of black and white mulberry bark is as big as a barrel.
It was the first time for me to show the actual process of making washi paper one by one, and the craftsmen said it was also their first time.
There are dozens of processes. Moreover, papermaking often involves working with water, which is very difficult to manage for display. Together with the artisans, we narrowed down the list to processes and materials that could be visually conveyed intuitively and managed.
In the middle of winter, I opened all the windows in the atelier, kept the fan running at full speed, and ventilated the room while shivering.
The atelier was filled with washi, or rather, almost all wood. The vacuum cleaner broke down from sucking up too much of the flaking bark.
It looked like a lumberyard, but it was full of fragrant, natural smells. I remember that it was very pleasant.
It was soothing. It was cold, though.
Raw materials for Washi lined up on the floor.
I was also able to learn about exporting. Unlike when exporting accessories, I learned for the first time that various inspections and fumigation processes are required. I learned a lot from the customs officials and the inspection and processing companies, and learned that there are many different types of businesses and customs. It was just after the Paris exhibition, so many things were very timely for me.
And I was able to create a wonderful space of Japanese paper.
I am just grateful. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Nomura Kogeisha for their help and guidance.It was a really good and fun experience, and I'm really glad I took on this challenge from the bottom of my heart.
Location：Shanghai Showroom, Nomura Co.