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106 DECORATIVE & DESIGN / PROFILE


PAULA ARNTZEN design file


Translating light through intricate paper structures, Paula Arntzen brought warmth, elegance and a party spirit to this year’s Dutch Design Week.


“I think for me it’s very important that my work gives you a warm feeling,” Paula Arn- tzen says of her approach to product design. “I use a lot of colour, a lot of round shapes, and of course the material is really impor- tant. When I find a material I experiment a lot with it to see how it reacts in different situations. That way I know how I can use it in a finished product.”


It was through this process of experimenta- tion that Arntzen first started to explore the possibilities of paper, a material that, to her poetic eyes, shares many of the characteris- tics of light. “Paper and light are almost the same,” she explains. “Paper is really lightweight and it can be almost translucent, so the idea of using it to make lighting pieces was really interesting to me.” Before graduating from Arnhem’s ArtEZ Kunstacademie, Arntzen studied furniture design at Hout en Meubilerings College in Amsterdam, a grounding that gave her a real understanding of - and love for


- proper, considered craftsmanship. Whilst she does still take on general product de- velopment for clients, lighting – specifically in beautifully constructed paper structures - has become the primary focus of her per- sonal work over the last two years. “When I first started doing little experi- ments with paper and light, everything fell into place for me,” Arntzen says. “I thought, wow - I have to build it out into these monumental shapes.” Her chance came in 2009 when she was asked to create an installation in St. Euse- bius church as part of Arnhem Mode Bien- nale. The fashion showcase, housed within the 15th century church, had adopted the theme ‘Shapes’ and Arntzen’s white paper constructions proved a perfect match for both this and the church’s traditional white Calvinist interior.


The piece she created was dubbed ‘Paula’s Paper Project’ – a title that hinted at Arn- tzen’s personal, handcrafted approach. The suggestion that this was a bespoke, artisan


piece further underlined the impressive nature of the large-scale structure. She had two months to prepare, including five days when she drafted in a team of friends to scissor cut the paper pieces and help pre-fabricate the structures before transferring it to the church.


As a working church, there was very little time to carry out the actual install. “It was so exciting,” she says. “When they lit up, that was the moment that the whole project worked, because the church was so big and I didn’t know until that moment if they would be big enough for the space, but it looked really cool.”


Following on the heals of her success at the Mode Biennale, she put together a series of shrunk down versions of the installation to presented them at the 2009 Dutch Design Week. It was here she first made contact with Artechnica, a Los Angeles based com- pany that collaborates with established and emerging international designers to create inspiring decorative objects, producing


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