Think back to the 1980’s and being outdoors often meant an uncomfortable experience. Snow Peak aimed to challenge this status quo and create a new camping experience, focussing on comfort and calm, prioritising the enjoyment of being in nature and sharing this time with friends and family. This new kind of camping mentality enabled Snow Peak to develop a different type of camping gear – with products such as the Takibi Fire & Grill and Solid Stakes embodying this mindset.
Fast forward to the autumn of 2008 and this creative principle continued, and in this spirit, the Hozuki Lantern was conceived – aiming to deliver a calming environment both in the home and outdoors. At this time, LED technology was coming to the forefront and was being used widely, mainly due to its energy-saving properties. The marketplace was full of LED lanterns and headlights for camping that provided efficient, bright lights but often lacked design innovation as they were simply LED versions of the usual products. The key strength for LED lighting was that it had low heat-generation and could therefore be used inside a tent - but the current offerings were very bright. The Snow Peak team conceptualised a battery-powered lantern that could hang inside a tent but provide a more natural light, allowing families to feel warm and cosy in their tents. It was a new approach to the functionality of the traditional lanterns and became the main development concept for the new Hozuki Lantern.
The lantern was to be a means of being close to nature, of feeling like you were enjoying watching a soothing light complementing the open night skies while you sat around the campfire. A gentle glow with an aesthetically pleasing shape that blended in with your surroundings. For inspiration, the designers went directly to nature and turned to the Japanese Hozuki plant – very recognisable with its orangey-red paper covering for its fruit which resembles a lantern. In the beginning the Hozuki lantern itself used this, with orange and white colourways, and it’s round, simple design stood out from the complex, angular designs of the time.
Going against the trend, rather than using Bright White LED’s the Snow Peak Team went for the warm and cosy light of the Warm White LED’s to ensure that the lantern provided a calm and comfortable ambiance, rather than a harsh bright light. The silicone shell was also different being soft and supple to the touch. It was Snow Peak’s President, Tohru Yamai who ensured the lantern had a strong connection to nature, by challenging the team to add in a sensor that picks up the breeze and enables the light to flicker in response. So, by clicking the button twice when it’s turned off the Hozuki lantern recreates the natural glow of a candle burning in the wind. A feature that came with long hours of night-time watching the Hozuki Lantern to ensure it performed, taking up almost 80% of the whole development time!
Finally after several months in the design and testing stages, exemplifying Snow Peak’s commitment to nature and innovation, the Hozuki Lantern we know today was born - and they glow and flicker in campsites all over the world to this day.
Original research - Savannah Frimouth