Architectural paper interludes

Today started with an early conversation (literally as soon as I sat down in the teaching office) with one of my Visual Communication students at AIVA about how to make paper from and using moss…this is the flowerless green plant that grows like a rampant organic carpet in the landscape that has been hard to translate into a Chinese context for some reason. Another student is attempting to make paper from fish scales, which I can’t wait to see. The five students in my viscom group are currently completing a ‘Branding Identity and Packaging Design’ project, basically designing packaging for and in response to the five Foundation Studies in Jewellery Design students practice…all towards their final degree show. I can’t believe how quickly this time of year has come around…degree show time. It made me realise it’s been 10 years since I started my undergraduate Fine Art studies…and that I’ve been here, in Shanghai, for six months already.

So whilst researching paper-making techniques, handouts and step-by-step guides to give to the students (they even struggle to research this part themselves at the moment and often need to be “spoon fed” as such, somewhat frustrating), I came across a couple of rather beautiful images/concepts and what I’ve called “architectural paper interludes”.

The first is the ‘Geode’ Street Art Project by the LA-based graphic designer and artist Paige Smith of ‘A Common Name’. Using paper in 3D, she creates “geode” structures in holes of varying shapes and sizes as part of buildings and pipes around the city of LA. I call them “architectural paper interventions” which are of a crystal and quartz-like structure that you would normally find in nature, to me presenting a dualism of the organic versus fabricated and constructed. I see it as architecture within architecture…interjections in the urban landscape that remind you of the hidden beauty of architectural decay, showing you how every single fragmented space in the city can be re-used and not disregarded…turned into a new architectural space now matter how big or small.

To date she has made nine and I really hope she continues this project not only on a local-LA level, but also on a national-USA to international level…perhaps even increasing the scale to fill larger voids and crevasses (I like the word crevasse for some reason). Wouldn’t it fantastic to stumble across one of these in other countries? Smith sees them as,

“…unexpected treasures. You might go hunting for treasures but you generally happen upon them during your adventures or casual interaction with the environment. I enjoy the fact that many people will not notice these, but some astute people will; that these will not last forever and the weather will affect them as naturally as it might in nature.” – Paige Smith

I really do love this work…it’s temporality and ability to surprise. A simple concept with such impact. I had to finish this post with an old print of a paper-making manufacturing machine that reminds me of an architectural blueprint…you can’t beat a little traditionalism sometimes.

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