On the Fringe
A Los Angeles installation by Layer pushed paper to the limit
David Sokol -- Interior Design, 4/1/2010 12:00:00 AM
The final installation comprised 700 modules.
"One way to give a sheet of paper or a flat textile three dimensions is to fold it. Another way is to work at the edge, making fringe that flutters, wiggles, and curls," Emily White says. She and Lisa Little, cofounders of a design studio called Layer, proved those points—and then some—with Fat Fringe, an installation created under the aegis of the Los Angeles design-research nonprofit Materials & Applications at a local gallery, the Fix.
Plywood held the steel die in place. Back at the gallery, volunteers began by folding each sheet to create the individual modules.
When Materials & Applications approached White and Little about the project, which would entail three weekend workshops leading up to a monthlong exhibition, the pair were already deep in a rumination about paper. "It's normally used to make something small, like a model," White points out. Little adds, "If we repeated the folding process, we could make something bigger, with variable shape." They presented this conundrum to workshop attendees—along with a prototype.
A prototype of the installation formed a catenary curve in section and a parabolic curve in plan.
Participants quickly alighted on the concept of a megafringe that would filter light or bend in a breeze, just like a standard-size one. Then they proceeded to slice, fold, and punch paper into modules in myriad shapes and sizes. By the second workshop, Layer had transformed everyone's ideas and experiments into a module that Little describes as a "paper wonton, which maximizes span relative to the size of the paper." A dozen paper types were tested, and a bright white cover stock was selected.
It took 12 folds to make each module.
After a die-cutter fabricated an appropriate stamp and trimmed the paper sheets, the Layer team reconvened to set up its giant fringe. Over the course of two 11-hour days at the gallery, devoted volunteers—as many as 15 at a time—assembled the installation. They first folded and taped the die-cut sheets into modules, then clothespinned them to an armature constructed from string eye-bolted to the gallery walls and knotted onto a single aircraft cable stretched across the center of the 1,500-square-foot space. The clothespins were ultimately replaced by staples, once White and Little determined that the modules' placement was correct.
"Rather than fringe decorating a larger form, the shape of this piece overall is a fringe," White observes. Window treatments and lamp shades, beware!
Curled edging demonstrated fringe's potential for imparting three-dimensional shape.
THROUGHOUT WAUSAU PAPER THROUGH KELLY PAPER: COVER STOCK. T&S DIE CUTTING: DIE-CUTTER.