Is that piece of paper ready for the catwalk?

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Is that piece of paper ready for the catwalk?

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Corrugated card board “Wiggle Side Chair.”

Developing new materials is essential for art-related industries such as furniture manufacturing and interior design. Paper, one of the most traditional materials for artistic creation, is no exception. From old-style paper to high-tech papier, the list of new uses for paper is extensive. Paper is now in the midst of an amazing evolution.
“Love Written in Pencil,” a song released in 1981 by Jeon Young-rok, gives a glimpse into how paper was used 25 years ago. On the finest sheets of paper, young lovers used to write down their feelings for their sweethearts. Now they use email and emoticons.
In the past, dated newspapers were often turned into wallpaper, gift-wrapping and even toilet tissue. Fliers of various sizes were gathered by children and folded into paper toys. Up to the 1980s, paper was ubiquitous in Korean life.

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lace curtain made with paper.

Now, in the era of computers and the Internet conventional paper seems to be an endangered species. Its role seems only to remind Koreans of “the good old days.”
But a transfiguration of paper is now taking place. The Papertainer Museum, which opened last year in Olympic Park, was constructed out of paper; its 353 paper pillars stunned early visitors with their perfect resemblance to massive marble columns. The paper had been processed to be water and fire resistant.
Shigeru Ban, the museum’s designer, has turned Papertainer into a demonstration that environmentally friendly buildings are possible. Furniture in the building was also made of paper, all designed by Ban.
Easy Edges, a furniture line designed by Frank Gehry, is another good example of 21st century paper. His paper furniture has been a great success.
Gehry’s Wiggle Side Chair, made of 60 layers of condensed corrugated cardboard, is an expensive, hard-to-find item because of its unique material and design.
Akari, a paper lantern crafted by Japanese designer Isamu Noguchi, also makes innovative use of paper.
Combining modern design with the softness of paper, Akari became a successful blend of Eastern and Western art. Visitors to New York often spot Akari in Asian-themed restaurants.

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Akari, a Noguchi paper lantern.

Using new technology, paper is sometimes reborn into a synthetic material with greater strength. The shade of a lamp called “One by One” consists of a polyester membrane made with paper that has been processed with plastic. It is safe from flame or tear, and the light-reflecting effect of the material is soothing.
Tyvek is another example of synthetic paper. Tord Boontje’s lamp “Midsummer Shade Light” is famous for its Tyvek cover, which looks like lace. The new material was used by Boontje to make a curtain that draws on the fact that paper is an ideal material for evoking 17th century romanticism.
The new types of paper captured the attention of the stationery industry as well. Paper Blanks creates day planners that look antique with covers that seem to be leather or silk, but are actually made of paper.

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“Easy Edgy,” made of corrugated card board, by Frank Gehry. [JoongAng Ilbo]

Since the creator of the brand is a Hindu, Paper Blanks will never use real leather. A flexible cardholder, which can expand or shrink when the user wants, is a good example of paper used in a creative design. The fashion industry is now exploring the idea of clothes made with paper. Paper is no longer reserved for writing letters. It has evolved into a new inspiration for the arts. This modernized paper is truly a mixture of technology and creativity.


By Park So-hee Contributing Writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]



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