Yuka Iida’s ‘Straw Straw’: Taking design back to its roots

“Parody aims to discredit an act of speech by redirecting attention from its text to a compromising context.”

Scoring the gold prize for the Muji international design Award category of “FOUND MUJI”, Yuka Iida’s “Straw straw” is a redesign and rethinking of the traditional plastic straw. Her design subtly changes not only the aesthetical appearance, but also communicates and rediscovers multiple ideas that were once forgotten, such as the origination, history whilst also touching on sustainability. It refreshes the audiences understanding of these topics and fits the requirements of the category of being ‘found’ once

‘Straw Straw’, is firstly a play on words with the word straw. Lida’s design simply replaces the ordinary plastic straw and substitutes the material with wheat straw. This design hints and takes the audience back to the roots and it’s origination from wheat straws.

The witty thinking and design behind ‘Straw Straw’ is a parody that clarifies, as well as design wise gives the object character. Much like ‘Matchsticks’ by Mende, large ideas are seen branching from extremely small changes such as by the material that it is made of. Through this significant change of material, it not only becomes a more sustainable product, but the design hints the origination, and the nature of wheat straw. Lida states, “The original meaning of the term “straw” was “wheat straw”. Wall art depicting people using straws of wheat to drink from have been discovered from ancient Mesopotamian ruins. Straws of wheat are forms created by nature; they are materials that return to the soil. There’s no waste in either the shape itself, or in its actual existence.

Additionally, the change in material engages the audience through aesthetical appeal and encourages them to become more environmentally conscious. The natural, organic colours as well as the straw like texture adds an element that makes it more valuable in comparison to the ordinary plastic straws that would be typically bent, bitten then disposed. It becomes an object that is revived and rediscovered through its former meaning, the norm of the straw is redirected to be seen in its former context that was overshadowed by the norm of a straw, Morson states, “Parody aims to discredit an act of speech by redirecting attention from its text to a compromising context.

Another object that is found through its redesign is “Sprout” the pencil that wants to be a plant. “Sprout” is a pencil that contains a seed capsule, which is then planted and activated by water to grow an aromatic plant. It is made out of cedar wood, and therefore literally takes the pencil back to its roots and soil. Pencils are objects that are often lost and thrown away, looked at as unimportant and taken for granted, “Sprout” is a sustainable design solution to this. It achieves the idea of being “found again” by breaking the norm and giving it value, allowing it to serve a better purpose. It gives rise to question such as, why hoard unused pencils in a pencil tin; when you could plant, and watch it actively grow something edible, delicious, aesthetically pleasing and entertaining.

Ultimately, parody, is a powerful tool in rediscovering objects so that it is easily understood, the object can be pulled apart and understood as separate entities as well as looked at as a whole, yet still make sense. In the case of “Straw Straw” the audience is able to isolate and identify its relation and association to actual wheat straw and begin to think about the natural quality and relate it back to the environment. It is functional, aesthetically pleasing and lastly sustainable.