We created an exhibition and concept store highlighting the traditional crafts of the Japanese island of Kyushu and their strategic role in regional branding.
Turning the Tide for Kyushu’s Crafts
Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island, has traditionally been known for its traditional crafts. Crafts are passed on from generation to generation, but are in danger of disappearing under the pressure of globalisation, automation and an ageing population. In 2019, with support from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the organisation UNA Laboratories was established with the aim of developing Kyushu’s craft economy as an engine for regional revitalisation. The organisation approached us to devise a campaign that would generate attention for Kyushu and its makers among a creative audience in the Netherlands. We developed a pop-up brand, the Kyushu Crafts Club, to promote the Japanese region and its lively makers.
Can Kyushu’s crafts economy become an engine for regional revitalisation?
A Gateway to Kyushu in the Middle of Amsterdam
In between corona lockdowns, we devised and launched a pop-up exhibition and concept store on Amsterdam’s busy Jan Evertsenstraat, which for a week highlighted Kyushu’s thriving craft economy. Visitors could see, feel and taste how fourteen young Japanese makers are transforming fireworks into a higher art form, unleashing a green revolution in indigo production and using ancient washi paper for modern design. In addition, we developed a web app that functioned as an extension of the exhibition. The digital platform documents the stories of the makers and served as the basis for a series of virtual tours, visiting the makers live in their studios on Kyushu. The online platform will continue to exist after the project and will be the starting point for future projects.
The Kyushu Crafts Club turned out to be a success. Despite the difficult timing, in the middle of the corona pandemic, the exhibition was well visited. In addition, we generated the necessary media attention, including from De Telegraaf — the largest newspaper in the Netherlands.