Usagi no Nedoko’s Sola Cubes Preserve The Greatest Design of All “By observing a small plant carefully, we are able to glimpse a more perfect world,” so runs the ethos behind the innovative Sola cube from organically-inspired product design studio Usagi no Nedoko. Each cube offers a unique specimen, reflecting the infinite variability in nature. These acrylic cubes preserve botanical beauty in transparent acrylic, freezing in time a choice selection of seed and flower designs polished over millennia by the hand of mother nature herself. The exquisitely preserved blossoms and buds are set in 4x4x4cm acrylic cubes, by way of a 1-2 week process conceived of by Sola cube creator Koichi Yoshimura and his craftsman. The cubes encourage appreciation of natural elements when suspended outside of their environmental context. From bunny tail grass to dandelion clocks, no object is too delicate for a process that has been refined over the past decade. Each cube is unique, and their stackable design means that new arrangements of multiple Sola cubes can be created and displayed to galvanise creativity, sensitivity, or plain old admiration in those around them. Rough cocklebur Japanese walnut Strawflower We’re fascinated by what designers can learn from the most well-developed natural designs of them all, so – naturally – we couldn’t resist getting in touch. TP: Could you take us through how you set such delicate objects – like the dandelion clock – into acrylic cubes? Koichi Yoshimura: Firstly, liquid acrylic is left to harden into a gel in 6x6x6 cm moulds, at which point the dried plant is inserted. Additional acrylic is poured into the mould, which is placed into a vacuum kiln and pressurised to force out any air bubbles. The cube is then blasted with hot air (approximately 80 degrees for 3-4 hours), cut to its 4x4x4cm shape, planed, smoothed, and then polished. American sweetgum TP: What inspired you to start this line of products? KY: American sweetgum was the fruit that inspired me. It looks like virus, and by observing the small fruit carefully I discovered a perfect world. The name “Sola” – which we express with the Chinese word 宙 – means “universe”, and explains everything we know and don’t know, including time and space, in a single character. “Sola” also has the meaning “blue sky”: an imaginary world spreading out before us. Balloon plant TP: Strawflowers, American Sweetgum, there’s a diverse selection here; how do you pick what you’re going to use? KY: Flowers are generally glamorous and colourful, which people prefer. But with our Sola cube, we like to focus on primitive flowers, fruits, and seeds in which I can feel their functional beauty, and natural force. I have some botanist advisers, and farmers who give us information about the plants. Sola cubes can add a thoughtful inflection to workspaces. TP: What sort of object is hardest to work with? KY: The dandelion is especially difficult to manufacture. We can’t tell you the detail of process, but we had to do a lot of test production. An understated alternative to the hassle of looking after live plants. TP: The modestly-sized Sola cube lets you always travel with nature – was keeping us environmentally in-touch a concern? KY: Sola cubes do have the potential to become “gateways to nature”. They encourage one to see the beauty in plant life, to imagine its power, and become attuned to nature’s majesty. You can use them to take an imaginary journey through the mind’s eye. A dandelion clock appears to be drifting still on the breeze. Koichi closely guards his method for preserving this particularly delicate object. TP: Where will you take this concept next? KY: We would like to produce more than 100 different kinds of Sola cube. Since our company’s guiding principle is “planning, producing and selling products that communicate the beauty of natural creation”,we will continue producing products inspired by nature. Bunny tail grass Eucalyptus Lunaria annua Globe amaranth Globe thistle Huayruro Shell ginger Sea lavender Nogurumi Phylica Star anise Yellow fennel flower Sola cubes and display cases can be bought online at Usagi no Nedoko. Usagi no Nedoko ships overseas.