WEEKLY

SPECTACLE OF STATIONERY 2/2
文具顯微 2/2

「單是日本墨水的分類,就可媲美法國酒種之廣!」文具王高畑正幸說道。日本擁有全球最複雜的文具市場,使用中的筆記本數量比整個國家的人口還要多。他們喜愛用最原始的方式記錄日常——在日本人心中,生活可以簡樸,人卻不能活得馬虎粗糙。這份精神當然也體現於其設計之上,只要用心發現處處可見細節;寫字剪紙,一切都來得講究。

「它們都是日本人發明的」
高畑笑言日本人都是文具專家,走入文具店面對過百種鉛芯,連小學生都能挑選出最適合自己的一款。「因為日本人要處理平假名、片假名、漢字、英文字等多達四種文字,論筆劃組合及筆順都對寫字工具要求更高。」高畑謂整個社會的文具文化也直接影響到市場狀況:「歐洲文具品牌的種類較少,大多走高檔路線;相反,日式產品品種數目驚人,各品牌為爭取客戶,價格自然平易近人得多。」

既被譽為創意大國,文具界中不少重量級產品皆為日本人的點子。SHARP聲寶電器公司聽似與文具風馬牛不相及,但其創辨人早川德次正是全球第一支自動鉛筆的發明者。他將之稱作Ever-Sharp Pencil(又稱早川式繰出鉛筆),寓意永保尖銳的鉛筆,也就是時下鉛芯筆的原型。早川為其申請專利,正式賺取第一桶金,後來再創業成立電子公司亦以「SHARP」為名。

「啪!」用久了的界刀總要狠狠把前方部份折斷,方可保其鋒利。話說至此,閣下應該猜到這也是日本人的發明。從前日本人Yoshio Okada一家經營裁紙事業,然而單塊式刀片容易變鈍、整塊棄掉又浪費,故他靈機一觸將其他物件的特性集於一身,取玻璃尖銳易碎以及朱古力條可整齊地折開的特質,終在1956年發明世上首把折刃式界刀。

「和式智慧體現」
時至今日,在美觀與實用性兼備的基礎上,日本文具仍然不斷進化。經過多年鑽研,高畑整合出數項從產品設計所反映的日本文化精髓:

- 改良
日本文具史上出現過不少歷久彌新的產品,但公司依然會根據現有設計一直改良,如KOKUYO的經典Campus Note四十多年來曾多次就行距、釘裝位置等細節調整。

- 彈性
日本產物的用途多多,使用方法千變萬化。如當地傳統用作包裹物品的風呂敷尺寸偏大,方便適用於各種形狀與大小的物件,不管是紅酒或盒裝禮物都能包得穩當。

- 不浪費
除上述的折刃式界刀之外,自動旋轉型鉛芯筆亦為另一例子。內部機械設定每寫40劃(以每次提筆計)就會自動轉動9度,令筆芯與紙張保持一定角度而受力均勻,大大減低折斷的機會。

- 可愛
風靡萬千小孩少女的和紙膠帶創作概念源自捕蠅紙,印上花紋後黏貼的工具搖身一變成為裝飾,不但被應用於紙上,日本人更利用其不傷物品表面的優點,以紙膠帶美化家居,將藝術和設計提昇至另一層次。

撰文:陳一格

照片:LOG-ON,KOKUYO,Foamboards.us,PChomeUSA
美術:李介琳

‘The classification of Japanese pen ink is as refined as French wines,’ says Masayuki Takabatake, the King of Stationery. Maintaining the most sophisticated market of stationery among all other countries, the number of notebooks in use in Japan is even larger than the total population. Japanese people love to record their everyday lives in the most organic way – to them, life can be simple, but never could be lived in a sloppy way. This belief is revealed on the designs that every single detail deserves your attention – from writing to cutting, it all matters.

‘They are invented by the Japanese!’
As Takabatake observed, every Japanese is an expert of stationery. If they walk into the stationery store and see over 100 kinds of mechanical pencil lead, even a primary school student could choose the one that suits him or her the best. ‘Japanese have to deal with four types of writing systems including Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji and English, which have a higher demand on the writing tools due to the different combinations and orders of strokes,’ claimed Takabatake. The stationery culture of the society does affect the market condition, ‘there are fewer choices of products for European brands and they tend to be more high-end. While for Japanese products, we offer shocking kinds of products and the prices are way more friendly as the brands have to compete for customers.’

Known as one of the most creative countries, Japanese people have invented a number of notable stationery products. It seems that SHARP, the electronic products manufacturer, have nothing to do with stationery, yet its founder Hayakawa Tokuji is the inventor of the first mechanical pencil. It is named as ‘ever-sharp pencil’ and it is the origin of the modern mechanical pencil. Being granted licensing rights of the pencil, Hayakawa earned the first barrel of gold in his life and later found a corporation which the name was taken from his very first invention.

‘Crack–!’ As a cutter knife begins to wear out, we have to snap the front part off to keep it sharp. Yes – it is also an invention by Japanese people. In the past, the family of Yoshio Okada was running a paper-cutting business. Nevertheless, the conventional cutter knifes easily loose their edge and it is such a waste to throw it away. Okada then gathered characteristics of other objects – the sharp edge when glass breaks and the capability of chocolate bars to be broken into even pieces – and created the first snap-off blade cutter knife.

‘Bits of Japanese Wisdom’
Up to now, Japanese stationery is still evolving on the basis of being both good-looking and useful. After years of study, Takabatake pulled together a few points of Japanese wisdom projected on product design:

- Improving
A vast amount of timeless stationery pieces have appeared in the Japanese history yet manufacturers keep applying fine adjustments based on the existing design. For instance, Campus Note, the masterpiece of KOKUYO, was revised for numerous times by adjusting details such as the line spacing and the binding position.

- Flexibility
The usage of Japanese products are usually flexible and there are plenty ways to apply them to life. The Japanese wrapping cloth Furoshiki are often large in size so that they can be used to wrap items of different shapes sizes. Simply with a furoshiki, your wine bottle and gifts could be instantly handy.

- No Wasting
Apart from the snap-off blade cutter knife mentioned above, the auto lead-rotating mechanical pencil is another no-waste stationery. The lead automatically rotates 9 degrees for every 40 strokes (i.e. 40 presses), thus the angle between the lead and the paper is kept constant so that the force applied is more even and the breakage of lead could be highly reduced.

- Lovely
Masking tapes have captured the hearts of millions of ladies and kids. Originated from fly catching paper, the adhesive tapes with attractive prints created another business opportunity as a type of decoration and crafts. Not only has it been used on paper, Japanese people also make good use of non-damaging feature of masking tapes and do their home decor with it, taking arts and designs into a whole new level.

Text by Phoebe Chan
Photos from LOG-ON, KOKUYO, Foamboards.us, PChomeUSA
Art by Carol Lee

ISSUE #0094

SPECTACLE OF STATIONERY 2/2

 

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