Re-Envisioning Paper At WantedDesign

Dan Gottlieb and Penny Herscovitch run Los Angeles-based design studio Padlab as well as teach Lighting and Environmental Design at Art Center College of Design, but in a few weeks, they’ll take on an entirely new role: leading the WantedDesign 2014 Student Workshop (May 16-19).

WantedDesign 2014 Student Workshop leaders Penny Herscovitch and Dan Gottlieb

WantedDesign 2014 Student Workshop leaders Penny Herscovitch and Dan Gottlieb

Art Center has participated in the past two WantedDesign workshops, and it only seems natural that they lead one. This year’s workshop, hosted by rOtring creative tools with support from HP and Molo, will challenge students to re-envision paper.

Art Center College of Design Student work (clockwise from upper L): Chairs for ATU by Youmin Kim; AHA 3D Printed Light by May Liu, Shingo Mamiya & Taizo Suzuki; OriAkari Light by Scott Lee & Hayato Saito; Slice Light by Jenny Chen; Harbor Chair by Brandon Ki

Art Center College of Design Student work (clockwise from upper L): Chairs for ATU by Youmin Kim; AHA 3D Printed Light by May Liu, Shingo Mamiya & Taizo Suzuki; OriAkari Light by Scott Lee & Hayato Saito; Slice Light by Jenny Chen; Harbor Chair by Brandon Ki

We were excited to get a peek into what to expect during the workshop so I spoke with Penny and Dave about what’s in store:

Why are you passionate about this particular workshop?

We are passionate about creative collaboration across cultures, languages and disciplines. We believe this is at the heart of innovation and the future of design. WantedDesign brings together young designers from all over the world, from a huge range of disciplines and cultural experiences, during the most exciting week for design in NYC.

Mio's Paperforms

Mio’s Paperforms

With the advent of computer graphics, CNC machines, and now 3D printing, what kind of a role does paper play these days in design? Is there a relationship there?

There is a revolution in the exploration of paper from building components, to 3D-paper-printing, to computational origami, to innovative and renewable materials.

Paper is now becoming a raw material for full color, high-resolution, 3D printing using stacked, glued paper sheets — Art Center is one of the first design schools to use an MCOR 3D paper printer. In the past decades, 3D printing technologies have evolved out of inkjet printer componets that were repurposed for 3D powder printing. Innovators like Hydro-Fold by Christophe Guberan are also modifying home printers to wet paper in patterns to create origami.

Infinitely thin, yet able to retain creases, folds and shapes, paper is the perfect smart material to leverage technology. When paper comes out of 2 dimensions into 3 dimensions, paired with digital tools and like Lamina and Pepakura and sheet metal tools, paper is one of the fastest & cheapest ways for designers to test ideas in three dimensions, and get tactile, realtime feedback about how an object interacts with color, light, and fits with the body. When paired with flat electronics, the possibilities are endless…

Robert J. Lang origami

Robert J. Lang origami

What do you believe is “the future of paper” – does it even have a future?

We currently have a certain understanding about what paper is used for. In response to the trend of ubiquitous screens, there is an emerging counter trend with increased appreciation of and desire for tactility and materiality, as well as craft and tradition, in the objects and media that surround us. Paper is the ideal medium for this. The decision to work with paper will become more intentional, and hopefully more meaningful. We believe that this workshop is an ideal context for inspired students to take on this question with fresh eyes and an inquisitive approach.

Can you offer any insight into your process for the Workshop at WantedDesign this year?

The workshop format is based on Art Center’s Design Storm model — a very fast-paced, collaborative, energized process of ideation, exploration and creation. Before arriving in New York, students will research, get inspired and prepare for this intensive workshop. Each student will kick off the workshop by sharing a culturally significant artifact from their city, country, or heritage that uses paper in an interesting, three-dimensional way. During the course of the 4-day workshop, students will work in cross-national teams to conceive, design, execute, and present their proposals. Teams will engage in hands-on exploration of techniques of manipulating paper as part of the process of re-imagining the application of paper into new opportunities, re-envisioning and redefining boundaries in design categories, and pushing how can paper perform in new applications.

Beyond these specific technologies, paper remains essential at every stage of the design process, from napkin-sketch ideation, to collective mind-mapping on post-its, to paper as a material for rapid, iterative prototyping.

Manu Prakash: A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami

What are you most looking forward to in this Workshop?

We’re really looking forward to the students’ energy, passion and excitement, to the hands-on exploration of paper as a material for design, and to the fresh new ideas that will emerge.

What do you feel are some of the challenges students will face in working with paper?

We’re so used to looking at paper as a 2D print medium that it can be challenging to see paper with fresh eyes and to seek its three-dimensional potential. Another challenge is to create craft-intensive prototypes in a short time frame. That said, we believe these types of challenges will be inspiring and energizing for the young designers.

Molo's softwall

Molo’s softwall

Is there a fine line between art and design when it comes to working with paper?

There’s a really rich dialogue between art, craft and design when it comes to paper. Designers such as Isamu Noguchi worked with master artisans in the centuries-old craft of paper lantern making, to create iconic new forms and qualities of light in response to modern lifestyles. Today, designs such as Wasara tableware by Simplicity are re-imagining the industrial process of paper pulp production to elevate the experience of eating off disposable paper plates, with their refined line of biodegradable tableware made from “tree-free” renewable materials. And explorations of paper as a medium by sculptors and installation artists are pushing the boundaries of paper, in turn inspiring the next generation of designers.

Learn more about the 2014 WantedDesign Student Workshop and see a list of participating schools.

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.