It’s been one great year of sharing our discoveries and featuring talented designers on NONAGON.style. As part of our birthday celebrations this month, we look back over projects we first featured a year ago to find out how they are doing one year on. Last year, Netherlands-based designer WooJai Lee created a project called PaperBricks to explore how paper can be recycled in sustainable ways and fashioned into strong furniture we can use at home.
Since then, Lee has gone on to develop the PaperBricks Sculpt series that delves deeper into the use of recycled newspapers in building everyday furniture. Having been recently featured in Milan Design Week 2017, we reached out for an update on Lee’s upcoming plans for the series.
Woojai Lee began his PaperBricks series as a way to recycle paper in a long-lasting manner. With every cycle, traditional methods of recycling paper weakens the fibers and downgrades the paper until it reaches a point where it cannot be recycled anymore. PaperBricks uses old newspapers turned into pulp to create sturdy bricks with a textile-like softness. He has assembled these bricks together to develop a line of stools, benches, and coffee tables.
Stemming from the success of PaperBricks, what things happened over the next few months?
It has been a busy few months, preparing and traveling to different exhibitions. My aim was to make new pieces for every new exhibition, so it really kept me busy.
I have also established my design studio, Studio Woojai, and it’s been a stressful and busy period, organizing everything while trying to establish myself as a designer.
Lee has been traveling the past few months to showcase his work – from Dutch Design Week, to shows in Amsterdam, Utrecht and OBJECT Rotterdam. He also exhibited in Milan Design Week last April with his new project PaperBricks Sculpt.
How did you get involved with the Milan Design Week?
I was lucky enough to be asked to participate in Ventura Lambrate 2017. For this great opportunity, I wanted to make new pieces of furniture.
What have been some of the most inspiring designs that have fascinated you during the Milan Design Week?
I was really amazed by the whole presentation of the Ventura Centrale during Milan Design Week. The presentations and the atmosphere of the space was just amazing.
Are the items in the PaperBricks Sculpt series using the same techniques as your previous PaperBricks projects?
The PaperBricks Sculpt series uses mix of original PaperBricks along with more sculptural techniques. I wanted to show the contrasting characteristics and applications of the paper in one piece of furniture.
Have you found a way to move this to commercial setting yet?
The pieces of furniture are now being exhibited in Mint Gallery in London and they are now available for sale. These are hand-made, limited edition furniture and they can be made with the client’s desired color. As for the PaperBricks, I am in talks with some companies with the possibility to commercialize.
WooJai Lee’s Personal Studio
Can you tell us a few things you’d like to see more of in the upcoming year?
I would like to see more designers working with different materials. Where the characteristics and qualities of the materials are emphasized this creates the environment for more possibilities.
And I would love to collaborate with different designers to broaden the spectrum of PaperBricks.
The original PaperBricks Pallet series will be exhibited in CODA Paper Arts 2017 in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. The new PaperBricks Sculpt series are on display at Mint Gallery’s Meta Craft exhibition in London, and they will be displayed through summer until the London Design Fair. At the same time, Lee is also putting together new pieces for the DDW 2017 in October.
What other ways could you see PaperBricks being used? Let us know in the comments below.
Project: PaperBricks Sculpt
Design: WooJai Lee
Photos: WooJai Lee
*This interview has been edited for clarity and length.