The world of pop-up books, movable books, flip books and mechanical cards is a magical one. But who are the pioneers of their paper mechanisms? What are the techniques used to make these books? How do you make 3D, cause scenes to appear and disappear and suggest movement? This book presents a selection of both classic works and contemporary designers and artists who have appropriated traditional techniques to revitalise this world with their astonishing book creations.
Introduction to the book by the author
I am passionate about the world of paper a multi-faceted material with many applications. As an architect and designer I'd always enjoyed creating models, but in 1980 I discovered the works of Masahiro Chatani, a Japanese architect who has inspired many artists and who invented 'origamic architecture', a wonderful creative technique that allows a flat sheet to be turned into a three-dimensional form.
Following on from this I also discovered an article that appeared in the Italian design publication Domus about Bruno Munari's 'travel sculptures'. Their originality and the way they had been designed caught my attention owing to their similarities with origamic architecture. It was through these two discoveries that my passion for folding and cutting took shape; it's a passion that gave birth to two works of mine,
namely L'Art du pli and L'art de la decoupe, both of which were published by Editions Alternatives. The Art of Pop-Up: the magical world of three-dimensional books represents a logical progression from these previous two publications, as folding and cutting are two recurrent themes that appear in the technical foundations of creating movable books and cards. In presenting a selection of paper engineers and
book artists, this work sheds light on some of their techniques at the same time as tying in with my own vision of paper-based design.
The work is not intended to serve as an encyclopaedia, and I do not claim that it is exhaustive. Rather I simply wish to demonstrate the enormous diversity of these extraordinary books, at the same time as providing answers to the following questions:
It is also important to broaden creative horizons, and there are two possible ways of doing this. The first of these is to find inspiration in traditional forms; origami in its various different manifestations is one potential example of these. And the second is to step away from the movable book's conventional mechanisms through making use of new materials or light. The new generations of talented illustrators that appear here demonstrate these two paths, bringing about a real creative revival as they do so.
- Who are the key creative pioneers of these paper mechanisms?
- What techniques should be chosen to make a movable book?
- What effects do they create? Because it truly is an effect, and even magic, to make scenes appear and disappear and to create movement.
The USA and England are the two key paper engineering nations, but during the last few years a French school has also developed and is gaining increasing attention. My wish was to pay tribute and give a voice to what is a profession that is indispensable to the creation of moving books, but about whom we curiously hear very little: paper engineers, whose craft combines the technical expertise of cutting and folding with producing ingenious creations.
According to Bernard Duisit, a paper engineer, in France "not many paper engineers are known by this title; it's a name used within the profession. It's a shame that the word 'engineer' has technical connotations, as this is misleading and can lead to people thinking that it is about producing paper. The term 'designer', which is thrown around a little carelessly in France, is more fitting here, as it touches on conception, creation and giving shape to the paper"
Of course, a paper engineer must have a good technical understanding of paper as a material, in terms of its physical qualities and the way it responds to different applications. But in addition and above all he or she needs to know the techniques required to produce the mechanical systems that provide movement, involving translation, rotation, deployability and so forth.
It is estimated that today there are no more than a hundred or so paper engineers in the world, with around a dozen of them based in France. They come from a wide range of backgrounds in terms of their training, such as architecture, design, illustration, packaging and advertising agencies. Very often it's the case that the older designers are self-taught, whereas the younger generation is drawn from different branches of art schools, such as applied arts, graphic design or decorative arts.
Jacques Desse is a bookseller based in Paris who is passionate about these 'play books'. He has been promoting them for over fifteen years in collaboration with Thibaut Brunessaux.
When I told him about the book that I had planned he enthusiastically offered me his advice, his experience and his historical interpretation of the field
160 pages of pure magic!. This book covers Movable Books – Past and Present, Techniques, Themes an Collections, a gallery of work from over 40 paper engineers, contact information for instructional courses, and some templates and models you can make. Great fun! <
1st edition, 2012, hardback, 160pp, full colour throughout, 22.5 x 24cm