Once considered fragile and unsuitable for long-term use, paper is investing its place in home decor. Some brands are redesigning the old art of cutting and folding paper to create desktop calendars, photo frames, folding lampshades and other products. Three Indian brands tell why and how they adopt paper.
Paper Picado from Bengaluru makes children’s room decor, shadow boxes, name frames and do-it-yourself toys with cut paper, in layers to create a 3D effect. Run together by Kruthika Nataraju and Tarun Keshav, their style is inspired by papel picado, a folk art of cut paper from Mexico used to decorate shrines and funerals, and, Saanjhi, a stencilled paper-cutting tradition from Mathura made in devotion to Lord Krishna.
Their products are made of cardboard, which is thicker than copier paper but thinner than cardboard. “These are available in many colors and weights that are measured in grams per square meter or GSM,” says Kruthika, who is a general practitioner. The pulp density and stiffness of the paper varies with weight.
Using tools and materials: For personal name frames placed on a bed of 32 bouquets of paper, they use 210 GSM papers, as these are easier to bend. A much stiffer variant (350 GSM) is used to make mandala lanterns.
The use of laser cutting is minimal (it leaves brown edges on white paper). Small details are handmade with art-class pen knives and blades and microsurgical instruments.
Challenges: Light boxes that show Santa’s sleigh flying over or a balloon floating in height are their best-selling items. “It takes 15-20 hours to make one. We work with 4-5 layers of white paper with different pulp densities to create a light and shadow effect,” explains Kruthika. on drawing paper. We have to apply a primer first, ”she points out another.
Prerna Gupta’s lighting design studio in Mumbai is called For The Love Of Folds & Tucks, or FLOFT. A vertical of the studio makes hanging lampshades and table lamps with the Japanese art origami.
She is also committed to sustainability. The paper used comes from bamboo, a
renewable source, and the operating instructions specify the use of energy-saving LED lamps.
Origami makes it possible to fold, unpack and reassemble these accessories wherever you go. Paper keeps it light – a package with a small table lamp and base weighs 650 grams.
The products are available in five shapes (tear drops, 10-fold boxes, round, semicircular and discs with whirlpool), three sizes and are manufactured with at least 30 folds. There are plenty of prints, about 50, inspired by nature (cherry blossoms), ethnic art (Gond and Warli), comics and even Van Gogh art. The lamp bases are handmade and decoupaged to give texture.
Tools and materials used: Industrial self-adhesive and neodymium magnets hold the paper and end folds – no metal frames go in. The paper used is of a stiffer type (280 GSM) – folds also make the structure strong. It is heat-treated and can also be made waterproof. Paper is cut with a punching machine (a manufacturing machine). Digital printing is used because painting with natural dyes and water can make the paper thin.
Challenges: “Translating a 2D artwork aesthetically into a 3D structure is the biggest design challenge,” she begins. Like printing MJ’s face or a scene from “Calvin & Hobbes”. This requires finding the right form of display. Some shapes take longer. “I got the dripping ceiling light (her bestseller) at once while it was semicircular
took five to six attempts. Precision, perfection and innovation are the key, says Prerna.
Sky Goodies stock of 200 paper products will bring out the baby in you. The packaging is delivered with pre-printed, pre-cut and pre-cut paper with fold lines and your task is to assemble them. You can set up an angel in 30 seconds or build a spitfire plan within an hour.
Misha Gudibanda runs the studio in Mumbai with her husband Amit. Their studio uses high quality paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which means it is responsibly produced.
“Paper is not a scary medium. We have been making crafts with paper while growing up. Our products make adults nostalgic,” says Misha about why she chose paper to make her DIY offerings.
Their catalog includes desk calendars shaped like sewing machines, toasters and ships. Other items: a tablet, a gramophone, trucks, cars, airplanes, a tea set, a boombox, whimsical lamps are decorated with Indian iconography.
Children can put together dinosaurs, tigers, oryx and mandrill and learn trivia about them from the kit.
Using tools and materials: High-stiffness paper is used because it holds the structure. “During the prototype stage, we manufacture products by hand. This helps us understand how folding and assembling them would feel (getting into customers’ shoes), says Misha. When finished, they are cut with a punch and motifs are transferred with offset printing.
Challenges: “I will not call it a challenge but we test our products (rigorously) to check how intuitive they are to assemble and if people can follow the instructions well,” explains Misha.
These products can last for up to 25 years (when framed in glass). Keep them away from fire and water and dust lightly.
These brands use imported paper because India has limited options, they say.