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Series: Auxiliary Lines for Things & People #17: Talking About Books

Mai Tsuno / Design Writer
Mai Tsuno / Design Writer

After graduating from Keio University's Faculty of Environmental Information, she worked for a manufacturer and served as an assistant to designer Shunji Yamanaka from 2012 to 2016. She then spent a year in Scotland and is now working as a freelancer.
While exploring ways to convey what needs to be communicated without hesitation, she writes for various media such as "Nikkei Design," organizes exhibitions, and does copywriting.
Her main work includes structuring the University of Tokyo's Institute of Industrial Science 70th Anniversary Exhibition "Potentialities: Exhibition for a Possible Future" (National Art Center, Tokyo, 2018), and writing texts for the exhibition "Insects: Models for Design" (21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, 2019).
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I don't usually talk about books. I basically do not talk about them on social media, and if I think back, I don't talk about the books I've read except with my close friends. But of course, I have many favorite books, and there are stories that I want to share with others.
Recently, due to my work, I had the opportunity to look over my bookshelves and did a bit of categorising. This made me feel like writing about some of my important books. There are many kinds of books, but this time I would like to introduce books that have 'collecting' as one of their themes. I could fill this short essay with just one book, but I've gathered five for this time. Some of them are already out of print, so please do check them out if you are interested.

Sae Honda's "Anthropophyta / 人工植物門"

Designer Sae Honda has a unique perspective of giving value to materials that have so far been overlooked, like creating artificial stones from plastic waste or finding new value in artificial pearls. This book analyses and categorizes 'artificial plants', aka artificial flowers, under the assumption that they are a formal part of botany.
At the beginning, she starts with the story that 'artificial plants are officially recognised as plants in botany'. The title "Anthropophyta / 人工植物門" is a coined term by Honda, invented as a fantasy plant classification name for artificial flowers. The book seriously and academically discusses plastic or fabric leaves and can be enjoyed as a semi-fictional guidebook. Last year, a special exhibition was held at the Yume no Shima Tropical Greenhouse Dome where viewers could enjoy artificial plants mixed in with real ones. Perhaps there's a future where artificial plants will be officially recognized as botany?

Ryan Thompson & Phil Orr's "Bad Luck, Hot Rocks"

The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, USA, is a park where fossilized stone from a 200 million-year-old forest is scattered, just as its name would suggest – a 'fossilized forest'. The park was established to protect these petrified woods, and picking them up to take home is prohibited, but the number of people violating this rule has never decreased. Interestingly, skins that were taken home often return with a letter of regret. The archives, which exceed 1,200 letters since 1930, are quite something.
This book is comprised of photos of stones that were once picked up by tourists, taken home, and then returned to the park, with letters attached to them. The contents of the letters vary, but many write about the 'misfortune' that has befallen them, like getting into a car accident, their cat contracting cancer, or a family member passing away. These letters and the stones that came back are displayed in a museum in the park. Ironically, they cannot be returned to the park because their exact original location is unknown. Although they were not collected by someone's intention, they ended up gathering in one place, which is why I included this in the list.
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