The USIO Design Project is an initiative that pairs designers with local business on Ishigaki Island in Japan’s southwestern Okinawa Prefecture. The idea is to harness the power of design by rebranding and redesigned the treasures that the island has to offer. The first phase of the project began with redesigned a series of products and souvenirs that were made on the island.
For centuries, Ishigaki Island has “been home to a unique local culture that stems from a blend of the Ryukyu, Japanese and Taiwanese cultures,” say the organizers. The USIO project, which derives its name from the word ushio (潮) meaning tide or sea water, was conceived as an invitation: a project that would invite people to the island like tides of the ocean.
It’s an amazing project that seems manageable only with the right kind of driving force (ie: not city bureaucrats). And that’s exactly what is making this project viable. It’s being run and managed by Loftwork, an unconventional company that leverages its online portfolio site of artists and designers create synergies between design and local industry.
Another phase of the project included designing a new website, ISHIGAKI NOW, that helps prospective visitors plan their itinerary. For now it appears that all these lovely products are only available at local Ishigaki Island shops, rather than online, which makes sense given the objective is to bring people to the island