As we grow more digitally dependent, many of us don’t use paper as much in our daily lives. But designers seem to have latched onto the material as the new plastic, folding it into everything from stools to educational children’s toys. Katja Hettler and Jula Tüllmann, of the Berlin-based studio Hettler.Tüllmann, aren’t the first to discover the potential of paper, but they’re among the best at showcasing its many different textures. In their new recycled Paper Planet collection, which made its debut earlier this month at New York’s Noho Design District, they present not only gorgeous origami-inspired lighting but chairs made from paper rope and knitted fibers.
The duo built the designs around the material, researching and choosing types of paper before sketching ideas. “With each project our design process begins with the choice of a signature, low environmental-impact material,” Hettler and Tüllmann tell Co.Design. By folding, stacking, weaving, and knitting the various forms of paper, the designers created riffs on some classic modern forms. The origami-inspired shades look familiar but, upon closer examination, they reveal their quirks: finely veined patterns and brightly colored string. But the greater innovation is apparent in the chairs: For one, the designers covered a bamboo-stuffed base in paper rope, stitching it in place with blue thread; for the other, they borrowed a rattan technique to create an Eames-esque shell from knitted paper.
By recasting recognizable forms in organic materials, the designers have designed objects that are inherently approachable. “Our understanding is that nonsynthetic materials do inherit a sensual, warm, and haptic environment,” they say. “Our design visions and our inspiration thrive from these haptic experiences.”
For now, Hettler and Tüllman are making the pieces by hand, but they’re in talks with companies about licensing deals and hope to have them produced by local artisans.