Gifts Unwrapped | Tropenmuseum Amsterdam
Musubi Furoshiki are displayed in the installation as a part of the exhibition "GIFTS UNWRAPPED" (Cadeau, hozeo?) which is in progress at Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. We developed tropen x MUSUBI furoshiki as well.


We had an interview with Karen who is in charge of exhibitions.

- tropenmuseum in Amsterdam -


1. Why did you choose Furoshiki for the project?

Please tell us your story including outline and purpose of your project.
- In an exhibition about the social ritual of gift exchange, gift wrapping is an essential part of the story line. We chose the Japanese art of gift wrapping as our main focus for this theme. Furoshiki are an additional element to packaging and transporting gifts that we wanted to highlight. We wanted to show some special furoshiki from our own museum collection, next to modern day examples, to demonstrate how this art and craft has developed and how you use them. We also wanted to show this in an ‘How to’- video, on screen, in the installation.

- The exhibition "Cadeau, hozeo? " (C)Mike Bink - 

This idea was inspired by the intended summer 2019 collaboration in the Tropenmuseum’s Cool Japan exhibition, which unfortunately didn’t work out. And of course what we’ve seen about Furoshiki Paris.
We wanted to make an installation about furoshiki. Here, visitors would enter a space comparable to Furoshiki Paris, where they would learn what a furoshiki is and how it can be used.
For this installation, we wanted to work with a design from Musubi. Not only because of your expertise, but also because of the way your furoshiki are beautifully designed.
The goal of this installation is to let visitors learn about ‘furoshiki culture’, like Yoshio Yamada put it so eloquently. Also, we would like to surprise visitors, to let them be totally immersed in this visual experience, whilst creating the perfect photo opportunity as well.

2. What made you choose us?/ Why did you choose us?

In 2018 Jeanine Aalfs and Daan Kok visited Musubi in Kyoto, for the upcoming exhibition Cool Japan in the Tropenmuseum. Jeanine bought furoshiki to sell these in our museum shop. The sales turned out to be successful, and our audience enjoyed the furoshiki.
When we started developing the concept for Gifts Unwrapped, it was a perfect moment to start a collaboration. We were already convinced about the quality of the design and the quality of the product. We didn’t need to look any further.
Next to the installation in the exhibition, we also wanted to offer workshops, as part of our educational program. The goal of these workshops is to learn about ‘furoshiki culture’ and how to use furoshiki. We also wanted to offer workshops in the school holidays for families.
We thought it would also be great if our visitors could buy their own furoshiki, in the same design used in the installation.

- Inside the Furoshiki Installation (C)Mike Bink - 

- Museum shop in tropenmuseum - 

3. Please tell us the impression to proceed the project together with us.

It was an absolute pleasure to work with you. We thought you were flexible, professional, and you had a thorough understanding of our goals and the needs of our visitors. It was great to see how you worked from our briefing and the inspiration from our collection.


4. We have worked many tasks like the planning for the installation stand, producing Furoshiki, Furoshiki lessons for your staffs etc.
Please tell us what was the difficult or hard for you or your staffs ?

It was a pleasure working with you. Excellent communication. We were happy to be able to communicate open and honest, even if this meant having to do the ‘How to’ video again.

See "how to" videos:

For product development of the retail furoshiki, Jeanine had excellent communication with the Musubi team. She mentioned she would have liked to respond more quickly with regard to the texts on the wrapper. However, this needed coordination within our own organization with multiple colleagues, and this caused some delay.


5. What you felt about the Furoshiki we produced and your opinions after using it.

The quality of the design process was and the product itself were great. The decision to use organic cotton was very appropriate, we were happy you suggested this.
It adds to the quality of the product.

Even during the difficult Covid19-situation, our collaboration went effectively and smoothly.
You even managed to teach us wrapping techniques during online lessons, which was highly appreciated.


6. How is your customer's response?

Visitors react enthusiastically and we see this in our sales numbers. Not only in the Tropenmuseum, but also in Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden and on our website we sell the furoshiki frequently. Visitors also like the Furoshiki Handbook; we see they like to learn more about folding techniques.

Furoshiki Workshop 

The press also think the furoshiki are special, and Jeanine is negotiating a deal with Dutch lifestyle magazines to place the furoshiki on their shopping pages respectively.


7. Did your image of Furoshiki change over this project?

We already had a very good impression of furoshiki before we started working with you.
Our appreciation only increased. Thank you very much for the special collaboration.

Comments from MUSUBI

1. from International Sales & Press

- Online Meeting between tropenmuseum and Yamada sen-i・MUSUBI -

Each one of projects such as the installation or furoshiki which was proposed on a couple of pieces of papers were gradually completed as a visible thing through online meetings and emails.

We developed Tropenmuseum x Musubi furoshiki as a part of the exhibition aiming the design which is something to be related to the stored goods of Tropenmuseum and the motifs that Musubi uses for the furoshiki.
Japan and the Netherlands kept a relationship even under the national isolation era.
I felt the magnificent time flow which both countries have been interacting each other through the long history in creating of Japanese traditional furoshiki for the Tropen national museum.
Making a new interaction come true with the power of network while tracing the orbit of the relationship through the voyage long long time ago.
I cannot put this impression into words.

We lectured how to wrap furoshiki for the installation virtually because we cannot physically visit there and help the display.
Also, we passed our suggestions on the videos which are used for the installation. I, personally, supported in terms of the language for those two.
I talked about what furoshiki and which size are sold well in EU countries in order to give an advice on the sales at museum shops to have them referred.

by Ayano Hasui

2. from Product Development

We proposed several design ideas based on the materials from the client and some keywords (playfulness, strong contrast, Japanese, etc.). I was worried because I had never visited the museum before, but after many meetings remotely, they liked the idea of using the congratulatory combination of cranes and turtles on the front and back of the booth. The turtle shell pattern on the outside of the booth was decorated with a treasure pattern,
and motifs from ukiyoe prints and furoshiki in the museum's collection were used to create a fun atmosphere for visitors to discover.
The turtle shell was originally designed to be red and white, but the museum pointed out that it reminded them of a popular soccer team in Amsterdam,
so we decided to add pink to the design. This is a feeling that only the locals can understand, and I was very surprised.

We adopted the design of crane because the design of our product was supposed to match up with the booth design of the installation.
I made it a point not to be like Japanese classic kind of things too much while leaving a touch of a Japanese essence based on the sales in the Netherlands, Europe.
They selected Organic Cotton of several materials which we suggested; this is very much like the Netherlands who is highly conscious of the environmental issues.
In terms of the paper wrap, I put only English on the craft paper in order to inspire the natural vibe of organic cotton.
I arranged keywords such as "Transforms into a Bag!" and "Reusable Gift Wrap!" on the visible location for people who have no idea on furoshiki; as well as that I put the illustration of how to use both on the front and rear as much possible.

From myside, I suggested the designs overall.
The ideas of the booth design, furoshiki design and its color schemes as well as the package design.
In this project, staffs who belongs to various departments got involved; I could proceed with the project smoothly and timely by contacting people in charge directly without using interpretation.

There were worrying aspects because it was my first time to get involved in overseas project on a great scale, however, people from Tropenmuseum have a deep understanding about Japanese culture and they gave me praises anytime I suggested the designs, and it made my work fun.

by Kensuke Kawamura

3. from Art Director

We were so impressed by FUROSHIKI PARIS 2018 that we were asked to do it in the Netherlands as well.
I was very impressed by the passion of the people who spent two and a half years to incorporate it into the exhibition.

I proposed a way to wrap furoshiki wrapping cloths to hang in the exhibition booth, and I was in charge of suggesting ways to wrap the furoshiki to be hung in the exhibition booth, and I also led a workshop on how to wrap furoshiki for the staff in charge of education.

To my surprise, they were very good at wrapping!
I was very happy to see everyone's desire to convey the goodness of furoshiki in the exhibition, video, and workshop.
I'm very happy to see everyone's desire to convey the goodness of furoshiki.
I hope that the idea will reach all over Europe!

by Etsuko Yamada


Tropenmuseum Amsterdam
【Business Description】 Museum
【Location】 the Netherlands