INTO THE WOODS: Okuyamato Craft from Nara

Introducing Okuyamato Craft through a curation of stories

Telling stories through craft against the backdrop of Okuyamato

Consisting of the eastern and southern areas of Nara Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan, Okuyamato is home to the highly regarded, centuries-old Yoshino forests. They are one of the world’s oldest afforestations, and residents of the region regard the nature of Okuyamato as blessings from the earth, having lived in harmony with nature long before the concept of sustainability entered the public consciousness.

Sustaining the forestry industry has been a challenge due to rapid depopulation. However, Okuyamato’s rich history and legacy has drawn a new generation of craftspeople and food producers to make their homes and livelihoods there in recent years. In the hopes of preserving inherited traditions and revitalising Okuyamato with novel, sustainable concepts and techniques, a dedicated community of craftspeople, manufacturers and the local forestry industry has been established.

Following the success of the first edition of INTO THE WOODS in 2019, BLACK was invited again by the Nara Prefectural Government to curate and creative direct the program’s second edition—this time, with the challenges of COVID-19.

INTO THE WOODS: Okuyamato Craft from Nara expresses the artisans’ hopes of imparting their culture and bringing the Okuyamato experience to consumers through their crafts. In response to COVID-19 limitations, the team shifted our focus for the second edition towards digital platforms, creating a library of assets that showcase the makers’ stories, crafts and products in a variety of formats. These were integrated into the physical showcase and primary sales point at LUMINE SINGAPORE. The ITW identity was also adapted into a narrow footer, icon and animation for applications across web banners, electronic direct mailers via email and WhatsApp, video content, and Facebook and Instagram sharing.

We approached the creation of digital content by first conceptualising and directing a photo and video documentation of the makers’ stories within the Okuyamato environment, at work and at home. These are accompanied by interviews where makers discussed their inspirations for life and work in Okuyamato, and the principles that guide their crafts.

As social media was our main channel to connect with our target audience, a Maker’s Feature was created in the form of a video and/or post for each of the artisans. Product Catalogues introduced the variety of products available, while Product Highlights gave an in-depth introduction to the makers’ thought and production processes when creating their star products.

QR Codes linked to each of the Maker’s Features on ITW’s Instagram feed