Read all about it: 'The Weight and Beauty of Japanese Money Giving Envelopes' at the London Design Festival 2014

September 24, 2014

The London Design Festival is now over and with it our event 'The Weight and Beauty of Japanese Money Giving Envelopes' is also coming to an end, although the installation will remain on display until the end of September.

We feel that our event has been a huge success, well worth the effort: people keep commenting on and asking about the installation and our workshops were full on both dates, with a few people coming over all the way from west London. We promised the participants to include the resources mentioned in the workshops in our final blog post, you can find them at the bottom of this post.

To begin with the installation: the entrance door parts divides the space of our installation in two equal parts.To the left of the entrance door, we juxtaposed images from the Japanese wedding that originally inspired us to participate in the London Design Festival with the material reality of the money giving envelopes that Lei brought over to London. 

The happy couple in their wedding dress take centre stage, yet, together with the neatly arranged money giving envelopes on their high-gloss lacquered tray, is present 'only' as an image. By contrast, the material state of the money giving envelopes extends into the present, but the envelopes are geographically 'dislocated' and culturally removed from their original purpose. 

To emphasize the contrast between their current engagement in the installation and their original purpose, some of the envelopes are floating in the air, metaphorically showering the radiant couple with their blessings, while the rest sits as a delightful, yet disorderly heap on a rustic tray that would not serve in a highly official ceremony, as its polished colleague did.

A slideshow of pictures from the wedding that places the couple and the envelopes into their 'historical' context rounds off the scene.

The right side of the installation revolves around origami gift wrapping. Images, videos and real objects sit side by side to illustrate the techniques we explored in our workshops.

In connection with the lush imagery of the wedding on the left, this side may also inspire admiration for the effort the Japanese people put into making a special occasion as beautiful as possible. At least that it how we felt, when we were putting our event together.

Below, a few pictures from our preparations.

Lei putting up the vinyl in the right side window.

Below, Leon fiddling with the video screens.

Kumiko making paper gift boxes.

Lei and Kumiko sharing a laugh as they thread the envelopes on a string.

Now on to the workshops. Since we've already shown you images from our first workshop (the one on Sunday afternoon) in our last post, we'll focus in this one more on our second workshop and on context and resources.

It was a warm evening so we kept the door of our shop open.

Kaja gave a short introductory talk to set the workshop in context to the installation and passed around two books and participants asked us to post them on the blog, so here they are. 

Wrapping Culture: Politeness, Presentation and Power in Japan and other Societies, by Joy Hendry, who sets out how deeply engrained the concept of wrapping is in the Japanese culture and uses it as an entry point to the understanding of the Japanese culture overall. The second book is Kunio Ekiguchi's Gift Wrapping - Creative Ideas from Japan, an inspirational collection of gift wrapping ideas with detailed instructions and some background information. 

As the title, 'The Weight and Beauty of Japanese Money Giving Envelopes', of our event suggested, we were  not only intrigued by the aesthetic appeal of the envelopes and the wedding overall, but also wondered about the material impact. The weight of the envelopes Lei had brought with her amounted to 1.5 kg. Under the assumption that this is typical for any Japanese wedding and based on the statistics of roughly 700,000 weddings having been registered in Japan in 2012, the weight of the money giving envelopes presented to couples in that year comes to over 1 million kg, enough to fill several large cargo planes. So we do come back to our original thought that it is worthwhile to recycle beautiful used wrapping material that is still in good shape. 

Below, a few images, mostly from our second workshop. 

If after looking at all these happy images you would now like to try out some origami gift wrapping techniques too, we suggest you visit the new mixed media section of our website, where we have uploaded our brand new series of 'how to' origami gift wrapping videos. You can also download the instructions from the mixed media section as PDFs.

This is just one of the videos:

How to Decorate a Gift with Origami: The Paper Lily from rougeshopuk on Vimeo.

Thank you for reading this far - we are now working on new events and we would like to invite you to sign up to our mailing list - if you haven't already done this - so we can notify you of our upcoming events.

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