Paper can be surprisingly inspirational for designers. Many have found something intriguing and poetically beautiful in this most ordinary of materials. Ingo Maurer’s Wo-Tum-Bu lights glow like ethereal cocoons, while Isamu Noguchi’s shoji-paper lamps have been the go-to piece for economically minded design aficionados for over 50 years. Contemporary makers, too, are exploring the possibilities of paper and finding new ways to fashion it.
Ruth Gurvich, whose work has been widely exhibited, cuts, folds and glues paper into exquisite items that mostly echo traditional porcelain forms. She loves the material because, she says, it “brings light, movement and vitality to objects”. By remaking everyday vessels – teapots (example fifth picture, €2,700), cups and saucers, bowls (example last picture, €700), vases (example second picture, €2,400) – in paper, she imbues them with a delicacy and beauty that makes us look at them anew, yet each one is functional. Buying her pieces takes some persistence: contact Gurvich direct by email or via her agent Blandine Chambost to make an appointment to visit her Paris studio. Both the Flow Gallery in London and Chambost’s Nouveaux Artisans gallery in the Place Vendôme will be showing and selling her wares later this year.
The Aram Gallery recently held a non-selling exhibition that explored the uses of both cardboard and paper, and much of the work can be bought directly from the designers or through a gallery. One of those featured was Pia Wüstenberg, a versatile designer whose lights I wrote about in December. From cotton pulp she has produced a series of charming flower-like cascading, hanging lamps (example third picture, €240). They are all handcrafted in collaboration with artisans in Ahmedabad in India, where Pia spent six weeks at a paper factory as part of an artist residency. She has also taken colourful compressed paper to make idiosyncratic legs that she combines with wooden tops to create a selection of substantial, and unique, cabinet furniture and stools (examples first picture, €440 each).
Also shown at The Aram Gallery were Siba Sahabi’s beautiful “paper porcelain” pieces. She is much influenced by classical styles, in particular ancient Greek or Etruscan urns, goblets, carafes and vases. They are made of spun paper and are a modern take on antiquated forms (example fourth picture, €750). All can be bought directly from Sahabi.