Forest pencils reveal the color spectrum of Japanese wood

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Design studio Playfool has created a set of durable pencils made entirely from Japanese wood, designed to celebrate the invisible colors of trees in a forest.


Called Forest Crayons, the project is shortlisted for this year’s Dezeen Awards in the product design category.

Forest pencils are made entirely from wood

The colored pencils are triangular in shape and made entirely from wood reclaimed from Japanese lumber yards.

Available in a variety of hues, from cedar and cypress to walnut and oak, the project aims to celebrate the natural pigments of wood.

Triangular shaped pencils
The pencils are triangular in shape

“We started out wanting to develop a way to create with wood like never before,” Playfool founders Daniel and Saki Coppen told Dezeen.

“After discovering the underrated beauty of wood’s natural hues, we were motivated to achieve our goal of turning wood into a drawing tool.”

Finely ground wood
Playfool experimented with grinding wood into fine powder

The pencil prototypes were made by finely grinding raw wood and combining it with natural wax, derived from the Japanese Hazenoki tree. The mixture was then poured into a pencil-shaped silicone mold.

“We were fascinated by how reworking the material into a formless substance allowed us to appreciate it not for its shape or strength, but only for its color,” the studio said.

The tree species form the pencils
Various species of trees form the pencils

Playfool sourced wood from a lumber yard in the Hida Mountains of Japan, which are known for their abundance of forests.

“At the lumber yard, we were amazed by the wide range of colors Forest has to offer and immediately understood how much more the color of wood is than just brown, ”explained the designers.

Colored wooden pencils
Forest Crayons aims to celebrate the colors of Japanese wood

The project started as part of a residency program called Wood Change Camp which focuses on finding alternative applications for Japanese wood, as two-thirds of Japan is covered in forests.

“In order to maintain the health of the Japanese people forests, trees must undergo a continuous cycle of harvesting and replanting to reduce the risk of disasters such as landslides, ”the studio said.

“However, due to the increasingly low import costs, the country has to contend with an abundance of timber, and although some is used for architecture or furniture, a large part is still missing. not appreciated, ”the studio added.

Through the project, Playfool sought to celebrate the rich colors of Japanese wood while contributing to the healthy maintenance of the country’s trees.

Forest pencils by Playfool
The project highlights that the wood is not all brown

The project was inspired by the concept of responsible consumption and production, one of the 17 United Nations sustainable development goals that were established in 2015 in response to the climate crisis.

“Forest Pencils act as a powerful communication tool in promoting awareness for Japan forests ”, the designers concluded.

“By emphasizing this unexpected aspect of wood, we hope the project can rekindle a passion for nature and inspire people to continue to care for and care for nature. forests for future generations. “

Set of triangular shaped pencils
The project is nominated for the Dezeen Awards 2021

Playfool is a London and Tokyo-based design studio that aims to take a playful approach to design and engineering.

Other projects short-listed for the 2021 Dezeen Awards include House of Nature, an all-wood school building in Denmark by Aarhus-based studio ReVærk.

The photography is from Shot by Kusk.

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