Japanese Artist Turns Designer Shopping Bags Into Miniature Forests


One of my favorite types of art is when something completely commonplace is turned into something unexpected and beautiful. In this case, Japanese artist Yuken Teruya takes disposable paper bags and turns them into tiny forests — calling the ongoing project Notice — Forest. With the bags representing a range of globally recognized brands, from Fendi to McDonalds, this series shines a spotlight on excessive consumerism and the destruction of our environment in a really beautiful and simple way.


According to the artist's official site, Yuken cuts the leaf and branch shapes out of one side of the bad and constructs the tree to stand within. However, though it may appear as if "the bag is holding the fragile tree inside, it is the strength of the tree that is holding the bag up."

Born in 1973, Yuken earned a BFA from Tama Art University in Tokyo in 1996 and his MFA from New York's school of Visual Arts in 2001. Having shown his work in many solo and group exhibitions, his latest at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in London wrapped up last October. The exhibition focused on these bags, giving a new spin on the old saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." The pieces displayed focused specifically on high fashion, using shopping bags from Chanel, Godiva, Cartier, Tiffany, Graff, and Maison de Chocolat.

The bags were mounted to the wall at 90-degree angle, with each tree modeled from species planted on 5th Avenue in New York. According to the gallery, "[Yuken] begins with photographs of trees, which he transfers to his computer, superimposing this image on the logo-ed side of a shopping bag. Using the original shape as a guide, he deftly cuts a two-part silhouette — lower branches/trunk and leafy top - folding and twisting the two halves into the interior of the bag, rooting the trunk with a single drop of glue."

The show also featured works from his ongoing Minding My Own Business collection, which was originally conceived back in 2011 when photographs of the tsunami and earthquake aftermath in Japan surfaced.