Even though the 2008 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) has come and gone, we are still aglow with the amazing lighting and parchment samples that we spied at the Precious Pieces booth. The centuries old process of creating handmade washi papers is a testament to the fact that sustainable and biodegradable materials are often rooted in honored traditions and indigenous practices. We loved the voluminous, geometric lanterns that Precious Papers had on display, and we were even more intrigued by the possibilities for using their eco-parchment in both architectural and interior design projects.
Precious Pieces ’artisan parchment-premium collection’ is based on a craft tradition that dates back to 610 AD. To make the washi (‘parchment’ in Japanese) artisans begin with a (sustainable) elongated fiber or bark that they soak, boil, clean, and dry before fashioning the patterns on bamboo screens. As the owner of Precious Papers, Hiro Odaira, explained to me at ICFF, washi not only is green in process, but totally adaptable and eco-friendly for room partitioning, wall décor, architectural treatments, as well as lighting applications. The water that is used in the papermaking process is also completely non-toxic and can be recycled numerous times.
In this modern era of eco-inspired design solutions and high-tech problem solving, it is refreshing to see an ancient practice stand up to state-of-the art green materials and concepts. We love how organically sculpted the lighting fixtures and lanterns are in the latest Precious Pieces collections, and feel strongly that this melding of ‘ancient futures’ is a great path to investigate.
In the spirit of Noguchi’s Akari lamps, “I believe akari (‘light as illumination’) to be a true development of an old tradition. The qualities that have been sought are those that were inherent to it, not as something oriental but as something we need. The superficial shapes or functions may be imitated, but not these qualities.” (Isamu Noguchi via The Noguchi Museum)