At the studio of the Swedish architecture firm Mer, there is an entire room decorated in screwed up pieces of paper. It’s a smart way of reminding its team that this humble material is the starting point for almost all creative activity. For French artist Maud Vantours though, paper is much more than a starting point. The Paris-based creative builds amazingly intricate sculptures, pieces that play with color, texture, tone and pattern.
“Paper is one of my favorite materials because it’s fragile and malleable,” she says. “Its thickness is almost imperceptible, but when accumulated it becomes dense and tough. I superimpose it, then cut layer after layer until it gains volume and a third dimension. I like the idea of using a basic material that becomes noble after sculpting it.
“I have worked with paper for a long time and there is always a new way to use it. I also like to mix paper with other materials like metal, plastic and leather to create rich and surprising aesthetics.”
Her work can take anywhere between three days and three months to complete, and it’s not hard to see why when you stare at them. And, Maud explains, it’s the theoretical as well as the technical aspect of her work that eats up the hours.
“I think the hardest part is to define the concept, find the idea and develop a new aesthetic. Creating a perfect color match takes a long time too. I can change the entire tone of a color combination just by switching or adding a single element, so it’s like a game I play or a story I tell.”
These stories have caught the attention of many leading brands, with the likes of adidas, Tag Heuer and Lancôme all having called on her talents. “Brands who work with me are interested in work that sits between art and design,” she explains. “Between commissions I try to develop personal works to create new designs, new colors, new treatments and techniques. This research helps me orient client projects in a way I like.”
Alongside her self-initiated work, Maud always takes a lot of inspiration from the creative energy she finds in the streets of her home city.
“I feel very lucky to live in Paris,” she says. “The neighborhood around my workshop is full of artists – it’s nice to be surrounded by creativity, which in turn helps me to develop my own art. You can walk on the streets for hours and there’s always something new that you haven’t discovered or noticed before.”