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Paper, originally conceived in ancient China, made its way to Japan in the 7th century. There, the material was perfected into the unique and indigenous genus of washi (Japanese paper). It is believed that papermaking techniques were communicated to Europe sometime around the 12th century, in connection with papermaking artisans being taken prisoner in wars fought between Asia and the Middle East and the Middle East and Europe. Machine-made (Western-style) paper came into use throughout Europe around the 15th century, with sheepskin (parchment) utilized in such a capacity up to that time.

Around this same time, letterpress-style printing was invented by Johannes Gutenberg, with the legendary Gutenberg Bible printed on a mix of paper and parchment. The honto CAFE, which exhibits a replica of that legendary parchment bible, is in fact a showroom operated by Dai Nippon Printing Company (DNP), a printing business launched in the Meiji Era of Japanese history (1868-1912). This cafe provides guests the hybrid experience of digital and printed books.

Located in one corner of the space is a cafe counter serving Fairtrade coffee. The showroom component uses wood materials in the floor, walls and ceiling. The design limits the quantity of materials in use to enable guests to better concentrate their attention on the books on display. Each table and desk is equipped with a tablet terminal, giving guests ready access to their digital books of choice by tapping on the screens. Also incorporated into the planning is space engineered for frontal exhibits of printed books, with regular efforts made to feature best sellers and other publications stirring up a buzz.

Over its decades in the printing business, DNP has also compiled an impressive collection of important written works. To furnish refined display space for these publications, 100,000 fonts were cast in the DNP original type known as shueitai. The fonts have been arranged in a tile format to form a masonry style soldered wall. Mounted in this wall surface are glass covered pictorial displays tooled to showcase the precious pieces in the DNP collection. In this way, the honto CAFE has emerged as richly refined space, instilled with the function of bringing together DNP and general consumers, at the same eye level, through the interface of hybrid books.

Photography : Nacasa&Partners
Design by Noriyuki Otsuka Design Office Inc

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