Hanae Komachi, a Japanese design journalist and friend, invited me to an unusual project. She asked me to design a new bottle lable for the 200 year old sake brewery Hachitsuru in which her grandfather had been the master-brewer of Hachitsuru-sake. In the long history of Hachitsuru (founded in the edo-period in 1786) I was to be the first non-Japanese designer to collaborate with the company.
There are many types of sake. In short, all sake can be divided into two groups: that with added alcohol, and that made with rice only. Most mass produced sake made today has pure distilled alcohol added to it. Cheaper sake has more added alcohol. The type of sake which is contained in the SAKE 8 bottles is ’yamahai-junmai’ - Hachitsuru’s artisans brew SAKE 8 in an authentic sake-making process using only 100% rice. For the lable I played with two circle elements and formed the number ‘8’ -in Japanese culture the ‘8’ is a metaphor for the flow of tradition, without a beginning or an end. Also Hachitsuru means ‘eight cranes’ in Japanese - even the city's name (Hachinohe) makes a reference to the figure '8'.

In October 2005 an exhibition at the origional Hachitsuru brewery combined examples of my designs with ancient tools for sake production, traditional and modern sake drinking wares and more than 100 photographs of the sake production.
The exhibition was curated by Japanese design journalist Hanae Komachi. The exhibition was also shown at the Kestner Museum in Hannover in 2006.

Project assistant: Ika Künzel (KGID)
Curated by: Hanae Komachi
Produced by: Hachitsuru