Commune has good ideas. Opening Ceremony’s shop in Los Angeles? Good idea. Partnering with Heath Ceramics? Really good idea. Working with Japanese design company Landscape Products to help tsunami victims in Japan? Incredibly good idea. “We feel very connected to Japan and have been trying to find ways to contribute since the earthquake and tsunami last year, but our options felt very broad and too big to get a handle on,” says Roman Alonso, a partner at Commune.
Shin Nakahara, founder of Japanese design company Landscape Products and close friend of Commune, approached the firm with the idea of creating a summer pop up to benefit his relief project in Onagawa. In 2011, Nakahara met three people from Onagawa whose families and homes had been lost in the tsunami. They were retuning to Onagawa to try to rebuild their hometown and Nakahara helped them build a coffee house to create a gathering place for the remaining survivors. The plan was straightforward: Commune would design a group of products for the pop-up tour, which would take place in Nakahara’s Tas Yard café in Tokyo, then move to Osaka and Kagoshima. Commune was immediately on board. “It was a simple idea, with just our two companies and this one group of people, but it would make a big difference. We could help bring back a community that was lost,” says Alonso.
Commune designed a set of products, including an apron, green tea blend, cookies, tote bag, and poster with the tagline, “Commune loves Japan.” Nakahara bought a Commune’s “Nudeware” line for Heath on which to serve the pop up products in the café and Pop Tour 2012 was born.
So far the collaboration has been successful. “Our companies are similar in that we really elevate and feel strongly about the work of artists and craftsmen around the world,” explains Alonso. 100 percent of the profits will benefit Onagawa and the products will be available online.