Envisioning a new way to enjoy Japanese beer
The ephemeral view of Mt. Fuji, in your hand
Beer, is a beverage that is drunk in countries all around the world. Its abundance and variation exceeds that of bottled water, and every country is proud of their national beer brands. The beer drinking culture has also influenced the design of the vessel itself. The Pint or “Nonic” glass that originated in England is shaped with a shallow bulge beneath the rim that decreases the contact surface area between glasses when stacked, preventing the glass from breaking.This likely developed from busy pubs needing a quickly washed, stacked, and reusable glass. The tubular “Caña” beer glass born in Spain is a small, 150ml glass that allows for the drinker to finish their beverage while it is still cold. The small fluid capacity also enables for the social drinker to bar hop instead of lingering on a tall glass of beer. Germany, is home to a world renown beer culture. To enhance the aroma, taste, and overall experience of the wide selection of beers, vessels have developed into unique shapes, such as the Weizen glass, the Stein, and the infamous Beer Boot. In other words, the shape of the glasses mentioned above have been morphed by the inherent context that is relevant to the country’s culture and history.
Amongst these countries, Japan also has a long history of national beer brands that have successfully been exported to countries around the world. Beer is the most commonly drunk alcoholic beverage in the country, and yet despite the heavy beer drinking population, somehow the glass has been left out of the picture. Pubs distribute beer in simple jugs, or often in the glasses developed in other countries, such as the few mentioned above.
Keita Suzuki, chief designer of PRODUCT DESIGN CENTER envisioned a new type of glass to add context for the Japanese beer. FUJIYAMA GLASS is a glass shaped in a truncated cone that renders inside the glass an image of Japan’s World Cultural Heritage site, Mount Fuji. In a comfortable size that fits in the palm, the glass allows for the user to enjoy the radiating gold mountain with a frothy snow cap.
The main focal point of the glass is that it is likened to the context of Mount Fuji. The Japanese, when traveling across the country by bullet train, anticipate the view of Mt. Fuji from the car window. Whenever the train passes by a prime viewpoint of Mt. Fuji, the Japanese will twist their necks to get a glimpse of the passing scenery of glorious Mt. Fuji. This is an example of the fact that the Japanese have a unique fondness for the symbolic mountain, as well as an esteem for mountains in general. On top of this, the Japanese see the beauty inside of things and events of ephemeral nature. The FUJIYAMA GLASS tastefully ties together this sensation and relief that one feels when they catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji, with the act of enjoying a glass of beer.
And again, as the beer is relished and sipped away, the rendered scenery of Mt. Fuji also fades away, just like the passing scenery of Mt. Fuji in the midst of buildings and veiled in clouds, that one may witness during their travels.
Sean Fujiyoshi is the english correspondent of Japanese design studio PRODUCT DESIGN CENTER. Earning his BFA at OTIS College of Art and Design in 2012, he subsequently flew to Tokyo in pursuit of the Japanese aesthetic. As a new venture of the studio, Sean has been writing English editorial articles on the topic of art and design to encourage cultural exchange between Japan and the rest of the world.
Article by Sean Fujiyoshi for D’SIGN magazine
PRODUCT DESIGN CENTER, Tokyo, Japan.