Furoshiki is a square piece of cloth (typically from 50×50 to 90×90 cm). The material can be anything from cotton, polyester to silk and is woven. It can be used repeatedly – over and over again. To wrap something, such as clothes, groceries, or a present.
If you like the historical part, (you see, furoshiki is approx 1300 years old), Furoshiki (風呂敷) is a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth traditionally used to transport clothes, gifts, or other goods.
This is how my journey began
I was introduced to the furoshiki some time ago, and I remember thinking: “This is brilliant – so many possibilities in a square piece of cloth” (with several environmental friendly possibilities, too). And when great people like Bryan from EcoEgo (www.ecoego.dk), and Lori Webb talked about the furoshiki and showed me how they were using our baby cotton cloth (a product which is no longer in our range) tied as a grocery bag, andI had to surrender. I had to begin this journey. I found a concept, which, through learning, listening and refinement could be fantastic for all us non-Japanese people (or rather non-Asian people, as it appears that several other countries in Asia actually have similar traditions).
How was I actually to go about it?
When googling furoshiki, I found many visuals of gift-wrappings and ’bundle’ bags in multiple colours.
How was I to combine the inspiration of a Japanese tradition with a new it-makes-so-much-sense “trend” using a Nordic expression and still making it uncomplicated to adopt? Yes, that was actually quite a task.
Initially, I decided to learn for myself how to use this square cloth. Together with Bryan from Eco Ego, I convinced lovely Lori to run a Furoshiki workshop in the Eco Ego shop in Copenhagen. Here 6-7 women sat tying and re-tying square pieces of fabric. We tried tying all different kinds of things, including gift wrapping with bottles of wine as well as tying a bundle bag to hold a watermelon. All of it felt quite peculiar. Because here we were – some Danish women engaged with American Lori, tying and wrapping things, where neither the result looked Japanese (or pretty) nor did it seem straightforward, easy or practical. Only Helle Vibeke, who has travelled a lot in Japan, was able to make something beautiful, as was Lori naturally.
This thought still makes me smile. What a start. Never the less, this also showed me that the journey I had started probably was more challenging than expected. Besides from Bryan, Lori, Helle Vibeke and I who had seen the brilliance in using a piece of cloth, there was the rest of Denmark and Europe to convince. A story was needed to be created and told to get people to know and understand about the furoshiki.
What is really the relevant WHY in this?
Why make so much work for a Japanese tradition, which could just stay in Japan? Honestly, the idea made really good sense to me. Then I can be quite persistent. When a good idea is initially felt (and verified) and has settled in me, not much can hold me back. The more I thought and read about furoshiki, the more it made sense.
Furoshiki “the art of wrapping in a cloth” (let us call it that) can be more than just a new dimension:
- Furoshiki used in place of gift wrapping paper – can save the environment for single use paper (825 ton yearly alone in Denmark. Source: AffaldPlus)
- Furoshiki used in place of plastic bags – can save the environment for plastic bags (3.4 million ton plastic bags are produced and used in the EU. Approximately 90% is the very thin non-recyclable type of bag. Source: unric.org)
In addition, our product should – as everything else in our range – be made from organic cotton. Free from pesticides, chemicals and heavy metals, naturally. So everything could be wrapped in our cloth: your baby, swim and sports gear, your neck and the food for your picnic trip – all wrapped with a good conscience and with respect for the things you wrap.
- Use The Cloth as gift wrapping and save the environment for waste of disposable paper.
- Use The Cloth as a bag when you go shopping and save the environment for plastic bags.
With a Nordic and simple expression
We hosted a design competition and many nice design proposals were submitted. Four designs were selected. Ann by Lubich Studio, Cecilie by Mintstudio, Helle by Helle Vibeke Jensen and Jasmine by Jasmine Watson.
Now the WHY was in place along with the expression and the practicalities. We only needed the HOW to use it for our customers.
Together with the rest of the team, I developed the packaging and instruction videos. Many hours went into drawing, filming, showing and telling to end up with a clean design, which told the story in a simple way.
Below you can see our videos on YouTube.