Encountering Shinohara Paper Works.
You open a book, and a pop-up stands vertically on the page. When illuminated, its shadow creates a motion silhouette that tells the story.
This was a book made by Tatsuhiko Niijima, a bookmaker who is also an employee of Shinohara Shiko, with a friend from his school days. Their book could move people’s hearts in an instant, and it received overwhelming responses when they appeared at events. They considered mass-producing the book for it to reach as many people as possible, and in doing so, crossed paths with Shinohara Shiko.
An original handmade book, and what can’t be negotiated when mass-producing it.
Separate from his own production of books, Niijima later became an employee of Shinohara Shiko. While going about his usual work, motion silhouettes started to gain more popularity, and he received many invitations to publish them. He prioritized maintaining the high quality of the handmade book in the mass-produced version. He could not, however, seem to make it work in terms of specifications or budget. With no further progress from the publisher, the book never made it to publication. After receiving the bronze medal in the Best Book Design in the World competition in 2015, however, things finally got moving. Graphic-sha Publishing Company called for a full-scale publication of the book.
Niijima spent some time considering the actual value of a motion silhouette book. Instead of being particular about the handmade quality and limiting the production numbers, he felt the book’s most important purpose was to make a significant emotional impact. He wanted to mass-produce the book, but he didn’t want to compromise. The author’s very own employer, Shinohara Shiko, was the only company that would share his vision and would lead the way to its fruition.
Trial and error with the company president and employee, and unexpected realizations.
From the day the publication was decided, days filled with trial and error began for the author, Niijima, and President Shinohara. The idea was to automate the book’s production while preserving the quality of the original handmade copy. A motion silhouette is a book in which a shadow is the main character. Unlike a usual pop-up device in a picture book, it was essential to make the pop-up part stand vertically. Also, since readers use light to enjoy this book, it must open totally flat at 180 degrees without having to be held down. Without thinking about profits, they dug deep into the possibilities and considered the best possible production methods.
When they consulted a mass-production professional, Niijima realized that things he had thought were impossible were, in fact, possible with machine processing. It was but one of many unexpected things taking place. Niijima said he also made many discoveries as a bookbinder. The things that had gotten tangled up in the production process were actually the result of his pickiness about his own books. And now, he produces his own books at his own company. From this valuable experience, he began to think about mass-production capabilities as a company employee. This task started with the question, “What is the best way to go about mass-production?” That, alongside the desire to be a company that responds to people’s feelings.
On the production side, there is a tendency for work to be narrowed down to “possible” or “impossible,” depending on a machine’s specifications. With a little effort and wisdom, however, a machine’s range of production will expand based on how the user operates it. One of the motivations to take those extra steps may be, in essence, the customer’s “desire.”