Tucked away in a side street of the quiet town of Nishinoura, just over an hour from central Fukuoka by train and bus, sits an unusual little store. The glass facade, concrete flooring, whitewashed walls and wooden shelving of Material Market give it the air of a minimalist design shop. Peek inside, though, and the wooden, ceramic, paper and other items on offer are not what they seem.

Vase-like cones turn out to be cardboard thread spools, the kind used for industrial sewing machines; white saucers are actually discarded porcelain kiln cookies; and displays of wooden objects are randomly shaped offcuts from furniture and accessory manufacturers. Every item is a waste or byproduct, carefully selected and displayed to showcase its potential as a creative material.

“My father used to make products using haizai (scrap materials), but it became too difficult for him to maintain that business,” says Mutsumi Kubo, a graphic designer who, with her husband, Tetsuya, is among the five founding members of Material Market.