Paper architecture

When the recession began to loom over Western society four years ago, the realms of art and design reacted with a return to the instinctual and homemade. Primitive techniques and a contemplative rejection of our increasing reliance on digital technology created a shift in paradigm that reflected our changing priorities. Part of this trend was the sudden, ubiquitous exploration of such a rudimentary material as paper, using intuitive craft skills and a great deal of patience to create incredibly intricate pieces of work. Yet Dutch architect and artist Ingrid Siliakus has been quietly operating in this vein since the 1980s.

Inspired by her tutor, Japanese architect Professor Masahiro Chatani, who was the originator of this specific art form, Siliakus began making complex replicas of existing pieces of architecture with the simple tools of scissors and paper, after years of studying the technique. The artist says: “Working with paper forces me to be humble, since this medium has a character of its own that asks for cooperation… Working with paper the way I do, namely by means of cutting and folding to create paper sculptures, asks of me to work with meditative precision. Paper architecture does not bare haste…”

Paper was for thousands of years the primary medium for artists, and it seems that no amount of technological progression will ever completely halt its creative use. A plethora of other contemporary designers with extraordinary skill, notably Jen Stark and Noriko Ambe have embraced the medium in recent years. But for Siliakus, it has and always will be indispensable to her practice. At least twenty prototypes are made before the artist begins work on the final piece – a slow, careful, meditative process that seems to assimilate traditional Eastern values. Earning her a place as a finalist in the Dutch Design Awards 2009, Siliakus’ work is indicative of the timeless axiom, ‘good things come to those who wait.’

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