Responses by Lorenz Langgartner, executive creative director, Serviceplan Innovation
Background: Made in Fukushima is a book made out of rice straw from the decontaminated fields in Fukushima, Japan. By turning the rice into the medium and making the data straightforward, the book helps people understand the decontamination method and how the rice from Fukushima is safe. To tell the story, the book uses a wide range of resources: photography, interviews, reports, background information and data visualizations.
Reasoning: After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, over 25,000 hectares of farmland were contaminated. However, people would not buy the rice because they couldn’t understand the decontamination method at all. The strategy was to turn this data into tangible proof, by creating a book full of digestible information and data visualization, made out of the rice straw grown on decontaminated fields in Fukushima.
Challenges: Scientific data from the decontamination method proved that Fukushima rice is safe; however, people wouldn’t buy it because of the data’s complexity. Without income from farming, the Fukushima communities can’t survive. We had to find a way to turn a vast amount of agricultural data from the region into comprehensive data visualization.
Favorite details: More than two years in the making, Made in Fukushima was published with a first edition of 1000 copies. Books were sent to decision makers in the environment and food industries to which our client METER has access through its other products. From this and PR, many conversations and millions of contacts were created as well as new business: The price of Fukushima rice is on the rise, and the sustainable decontamination method is being used by more farmers and organizations in Fukushima and beyond.
Visual influences: The art direction combines traditional Japanese methods with modern design. It was developed at the intersection of science and information design, to translate complex data into understandable information. The photography was spread across page borders to let readers experience the book as a journey. The paper was produced together with Japanese and international paper production specialists to contain a visible part of rice straw without distracting from the information and photography. Pages with photo sequences from Fukushima were bound using Japanese binding and creating “in-depth” pages. These were used to show the radiation at the locations the photos were taken.
Specific demands: Rice has been deeply rooted in Japanese culture for more than 2000 years. Rice is the nation's staple food, pride and soul. One of Japan’s most important rice farming regions is the Fukushima Prefecture. But without income from farming, Fukushima’s community struggled to survive. It was not only important to understand the culture of the region but to also help people understand the science beyond the stigma.