Japanese artist and former baker Yukiko Morita has folded her love of bread into her creative work by setting up PAMPSHADE, an artisanal company that turns real baguettes, croissants and loaves of bread into fully functional lamps.
Bread is such an everyday food that many of us probably take it for granted. However, Japanese artist Yukiko Morita was so entranced by the various unique qualities of bread that she decided to work this passion into her creative work.
The idea of using bread to create lamps first came to Yukiko in 2006 while she was studying at Kyoto City University of Arts. When she wasn't attending lectures or seminars, she worked at a nearby delicious bakery for five years. "Before I started working there, I simply liked to eat bread. But as I worked in the bakery, I noticed that the 'expression' of the bread was different every day," she tells Creative Boom.
"Bread has a completely different 'expression' depending on various factors such as temperature, humidity, yeast condition, and the baker. As I learned more about bread, I became more and more fascinated with it."
This fascination led Yukiko to create works that explored what she calls "the charms of bread". These studies included photographs of thinly sliced pieces of bread shot in a forest, which were then scrutinised under a microscope to observe the mould that grew on them. One day, while studying a thinly sliced crust with the crumbs hollowed out, the sun shone through the window and made the bread appear to glow.
"I found it made the bread shine!" she explains. "It perfectly described the 'charm of bread' that I was looking for. This was the beginning of the PAMPSHADE.
It wasn't until two years after her 2008 graduation, though, that Yukiko started to seriously develop her fascination into an innovative home decor business. And even then, it took until 2016 for PAMPSHADE to officially launch as a brand. Taking its name from pan (another word for bread) and lampshade, the company now ships bread-themed items internationally.
It's not hard to see why PAMPSHADE's products are so popular. The cool and quirky lampshades are almost too odd to be real, but somehow they work. And as well as being an offbeat centrepiece for any bedroom or living room, they're also functional and sustainable.
Considering their unique appeal, it's unsurprising that Yukiko is remaining tight-lipped about how the bread is prepared and treated in order to make it into a lamp. "The details are a secret, but our creative process starts with buying 'unsold bread' from several bakeries. By purchasing the unsold bread, the bakeries are happy, and it leads to a sustainable creative activity."
Fortunately, the lamps have a longer shelf life than your average loaf of bread. "The bread is well treated with antiseptic and mildew proofing," Yukiko explains. "Within the scope of normal use, they can be used semi-permanently. However, be careful not to break them!"
The full list of products on the PAMPSHADE site include little cob lamps, croissant lamps, baguette lights, and even clocks made out of naan bread which look like they've been lifted straight out of a Salvador Dali painting. But for someone as fanatical about bread as Yukiko, she must have a favourite type of bread to work with, right?
"My favourite bread is baguettes," she enthuses. "Baguettes are often made with simple ingredients: just flour, water, salt, and yeast. Because of this, the characteristics of the ingredients and the skill of the baker are easily reflected in the taste, making it a very delicate bread. A bakery with a good baguette is a good bakery."
We've got our eyes on a cute little croissant lamp ourselves. "I think the croissant lamp is the most charming, too! The layers of butter delicately overlap, and the way the warm light floods through the gaps is truly magical! However, croissants are the most delicate and the most difficult bread to make, so it troubles me also."
Explore the full range of items and learn more about Yukiko's incredible brand on the PAMPSHADE site.