Playfool Casts Colorful ‘Forest Crayons’ from Japan’s Surplus Timber



Design
Nature

#color
#crayons
#environment
#Playfool
#trees

a row of colorful, triangular crayons made from the naturally occurring colors of wood from different trees

Photos by Shot by Kusk. All images © Playfool, shared with permission

Japan is covered in nearly 70 percent forest, a remarkable statistic at a time when demand for timber continues to rise and urban developments expand. In today’s age of global commerce, however, we can ship entire woodlands across oceans, impacting supply chains and altering how local resources are utilized. And since importing timber from elsewhere is often more affordable, trees cut locally can go unused. “Japan basically has too much wood,” says Daniel Coppen, who co-founded the design studio Playfool with Saki Maruyama.

In 2021, Coppen and Maruyama participated in a residency sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, during which they were introduced to the country’s unique surplus. Interviews with myriad people connected to the forest products industry, from lumber-yard workers to furniture makers, provided valuable insight into the natural, industrial, and commercial ecosystems of the nation’s trees.

During their research, the duo collected branches, leaves, and logs, which they took back to the studio for experiments with shaving, boiling, blending—even tasting. They also ground the material down into a very fine powder, which drew their attention to the inherent variety of hues. From the powders, a selection of pigments emerged, and “Forest Crayons” were born.

Mixed with melted wax, the pigments are cast in molds to create sticks that can be easily handled. Colors reflect the type of tree that creates each distinctive shade, from Bogwood and Cedar to Magnolia and Cypress. While the crayons are currently sold out in Playfool’s shop, scroll down to explore the meticulous process of making each one in a video produced by V&A.

 

a packaged row of colorful, triangular crayons made from the naturally occurring colors of wood from different trees

a triangular crayon with a blueish hue, shown next to a piece of timber from which its pigment was ground

a triangular crayon with a warm rusty hue, shown next to a piece of timber from which its pigment was ground

an array of colorful, triangular crayons made from the naturally occurring colors of wood from different trees

a row of colorful, crayons made from the naturally occurring colors of wood from different trees



#color
#crayons
#environment
#Playfool
#trees

 

Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. You’ll connect with a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, read articles and newsletters ad-free, sustain our interview series, get discounts and early access to our limited-edition print releases, and much more. Join now!