FUROSHIKI AND THE (SUSTAINABLE) ART OF GIFT WRAPPING
Sometimes, we may lose sight of the things we’ve fought hard to achieve for generations, but it’s especially important then to remind ourselves not to give up on our long-term commitments. Growing up on a farm where every ingredient was precious and just that little bit harder to come by, I have always fought against wastefulness, which we work hard to combat at my restaurants – especially at Klein JAN, where preserving every ingredient is a way of life. And because of this mindset, I have always been very drawn to practices that inspire us to be less wasteful.
The Japanese custom of furoshiki has been around for almost 1300 years and started as a way of transporting temple artefacts, but in time, the idea of wrapping items in cloth as a means of getting them from A to B – or simply storing them – was applied to all kinds of possessions.
It was only more recently, as the world started waking up to our urgent need to become more environmentally sustainable, that we began to apply this practice on a larger scale. In the west, furoshiki has become famous as an alternative to wrapping gifts in paper, with cloths made of anything from cotton or silk to linen or hemp.
I found the idea so inspiring that my team and I came up with a range of ways to wrap your gifts in cloth. These were some of our favourites:
Inspired by the famous Audrey Hepburn look from the film Charade (1963), the headscarf is a classic, and a great way to tease the receiver of your gift by offering a peek at what’s inside. Sure, it’s a box – possibly even one containing an enticing perfume – but do you know what perfume? So playful, so stylish.
THE WRAP DRESS
It’s easy-going, it’s casual, it’s the resort wear of gift wrapping. Simply wrap it around the gift of your choice and tie it in a bow. It works especially well with those hard-to-wrap, curvier objects, like bottles, as opposed to square-cut, box-shaped ones.
If this conjures an image of Huckleberry Finn traipsing along a riverbank carrying a sack tied to a stick over his shoulder, you’re not off the mark (Twain). There’s something fable-like about this creation. Practically speaking, it’s also a great way to “hide” what’s inside with a bit of a flourish on top, although attaching an extra prop on the outside might give it away.
Think Sophia Loren arriving at the Cannes Film Festival, fresh off a yacht and looking fabulous. Let’s call it what it is, this style of wrapping doesn’t exactly hide a gift, but rather emphasises its best assets. Modesty doesn’t always have to be a thing. Sometimes it’s more about the act of giving than preserving the mystery.
Whether you’ve just emerged from a dip in the ocean or stepped out of the shower and can’t be bothered to style your hair, the doek is the epitome of easy-going, casual charm. When applying it to gift wrapping, it’s more about adding flair to an otherwise uneventful jar of rusks or homemade jam than about “I wonder what it could be.”
Inspired by furoshiki, L’Occitane have created a no-waste alternative gift wrap option decorated with original artwork by local South African artists and collaborators.
Through the sale of each of their Solidarity Scarves, all proceeds will be donated to the company’s South African initiatives focussed on caring for sight in schools and communities, and protecting our local biodiversity through the planting of over 1500 trees.