“A prayer to the future”: The process behind the handmade recycled book designed to be read in 1000 years

After hearing that every single piece of plastic ever made still exists on this planet, design agency Ki Saigon wanted to do something about it. Based in Vietnam, the studio came across this information while watching the documentary, A Plastic Paradise. “Hearing this,” the agency’s creative director Kumkum Fernando tells us, “we made a connection to the thought that a simple piece of plastic would be around when our great-great-great-grandchildren are born, a thousand years from now. And so, in light of the fact it takes a thousand years for plastic to decompose, Ki Saigon launched a self-initiated project to raise awareness on the matter. “We thought this was almost like a time capsule,” adds Kumkum, and in turn, Letters to the future came about.
Bringing one of its favourite clients on board, Pizza 4ps (a chain of restaurants in Vietnam), the collaborators launched the ambitious task of creating an art project which seeks a visceral reaction from the viewer. First, the studio and Pizza 4ps asked family and friends to write a letter to their own great-great-great-grandchildren to be read in a thousand years. Over four months, Ki Saigon collected these letters from all over the world, circling from Australia and Argentina to Japan, Israel, the Maldives, Mongolia, Tibet, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the USA. Teaming up with local recyclers to collect the plastic needed for the book, the book then brings together a range of materials including styrofoam boxes, bubble wrap, plastic bags and plastic sheets to use as the base material.
“There was a lot of trial and error” when putting the book together, says Kumkum. For starters, what does one say to their future family members? Ki Saigon decided to provide a guide for the letters, asking each participant to imagine what they would like to hear from them, given the fact the book will still be around in 1000 years. Each letter is also hand written, adding another dimension to the project while “staying true to the spirit of the project.” With a dedicated full time team of staff, each letter was carefully digitised, then translated into English if it wasn’t already. The letters were then exposed onto silk screens and used to print onto the plastic pages of the book. An illustration accompanies each letter, filling the pages of the entirely handmade book beautifully stitched together.