- Branding, Content, Environment, Interactive, Strategy
SOMA is a lifestyle brand attempting to convey Japanese traditional wood cultures to modern society. Founded by a woodworker Masaru Kawai, SOMA has been designing and selling products made of Japanese conifer mainly. They also have held workshops and public talks to restore forests and share culture around woods. Since the brand’s establishment, Kamimura & Co. has been in charge of its design: visual identity, website, exhibition and publishing.
The design of SOMA started from Kawai’s idea. He asked us to design the brand’s identity that could evoke us sublime atmosphere such as we could feel from Japanese old scared trees Jindai-sugi, cedars buried under the ground for over 1000 years. During our research about woods in Japan, we found the cases that people set attributes of nature as aesthetic standards in many different areas on the earth from ancient times. This fact made sense for SOMA as it intended to release the products both in Japan and overseas. We set forms and nature of woods itself as the aesthetic standard of the visual identity, and tried to make it simple so that people could notice the source intuitively just by looking at it.
The core elements of this visual identity are simplified wood shapes. Based on these elements, we developed the brand mark, logotype, and bespoke typeface. The brand title “SOMA” was named after “Soma”, the designation of people who once lived with woods in Japan. The type of axes that Soma has used for a long time has three lines on a side, and four lines on another. The reason for those lines is unknown. However, it is said to be a symbol of purification. By reconsidering and reconstructing these seven lines, we designed the forest-representative brand mark that took over the spirit of the Shinto ritual. We also made the original typeface by asking ourselves: how the typeface would look like if they were engraved an elastic, powerful old Roman inscription on a Japanese old wood building? Additionally, we are trying to use less printed matters as possible and eco-friendly uncoated paper since the paper comes from wood.
We have been in charge of the photo direction and planning of an exhibition. SOMA is growing with the people sympathizing with their activity.
Soma by Kamimura, A Gute Process critique
SOMA:Japanese forests and the possibilities of untreated wood
Branding and Packaging: SOMA Branding by Kamimura
Soma - Visual Journal
Tokyo Craft Room, De Intuïtiefabriek and SOMA