© Manu Schwendener

Visual Culture

Paper Is Dead. Long Live Paper

If you get a thrill when first opening a pristine notebook and the scent of a library sends happy signals to your brain, there is good news for you. In spite of the prophecies predicting the demise of paper, Kindle and the internet have not killed the material you love. New and original takes on paper debut in fashion, architecture, perfume – and the paper industry itself.

True, most of us get the news from the web and handle our finances through email, but we are still fascinated and attracted by the materiality of paper supports. Not only are we still reading books and writing notes by hand in spite of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging galore, but new and original takes on paper debut on a regular basis: from cardboard architecture and nanoparticle paper to paper-scented candles for those who miss the enchanting fragrance of a newly printed book.

Too, fashion has gleefully taken note and unveiled collections inspired by paper characters, paper dollsorigami and cut-outs while fashion shows are set in former libraries and attendees are gifted paper editions of classic texts.

A current IKEA project illustrates just how of the moment – and sustainable – paper can be when used in new contexts. The furniture behemoth is researching how to build recyclable furniture from waste paper and pulp.

So, in spite of the decline in business paper consumption and the aggressive advances of everything digital, paper is not going anywhere any time soon. In the era of the Internet, when digital representation has become the norm, paper is awarded new cultural meaning. It is shifting its cultural stance from vital textual support to a sensory stimulus, a potent symbol and object of physical beauty.


Header photography: © Manu Schwendener

Photos © Kaviar GaucheFedrigoni, Joel Rhodin / MINK MGMT, Bikini BerlinCommodity GoodsKilianTrue GracePapier TigreAlexa Meade Art H Gallery Paris, Joachim Baan, Christian Perner, Inter IKEA Systems B.V.