Designing Experience through Craft in Paper World

This section presents the research process carried out to solve the reformulated research question in the fourth and fifth phases of research (Figure 7). Having received input from phenomenological thinking, the author’s craft practice was redesigned. The creative process of the second craft production, namely Paper World, was structured differently from that of Seeing Paper (Figure 11). Unlike Seeing Paper in which context, in particular the type of exhibition space, was barely considered, the exhibition space and elements in it became the starting point of Paper World. This was to emphasize a person’s actual activities that take place within the world or being-in the world in Heidegger’s sense (1962). The artistic production of Paper World thus broadened the research problem to encompass the topic of paper string’s expressive potential in a specific exhibition context (Nimkulrat, 2009a, pp. 128-150). In other words, the material’s expressivity was comprehended in a context, not as an individual entity secluded from its overall settings.




Figure 11. The creative process of Paper World (right) in comparison to that of Seeing Paper (left)

(adapted from Nimkulrat, 2009a, p. 129).


Dewey (1934, pp. 48-56) points out that the maker must embody the attitude of a viewer while making an object in order to understand the audience who in return would try to understand the maker’s intended message. Adopting the role of a viewer into craft making with the aim of encouraging viewers to experience and interpret artifacts in a particular way, the author imagined herself being surrounded by the exhibits in the same space as other viewers. For the viewers and the maker to have a comparable experience with the exhibits and exhibition, the forms of artifacts and space in which the artifacts would be exhibited ought to be familiar to or have meaning for both. As Merleau-Ponty (1962, p. 292) states, perception is a bodily phenomenon which coexists with movement as an interrelated whole, both grounding the objectivity and subjectivity of experience including the inner feel and intentional grips on the world. The creation of Paper World thus attempted to understand the viewers’ interpretation as an objective and subjective act of perceiving and bodily engaging with all artifacts as a complete unit.


Further reading the history of Finnish design (e.g., Kruskopf, 1975; Priha, 1999, p. 120-131; Wiberg, 1996) and the history of Finland during and after the Second World War (Singleton, 1986, 1998) illuminated the formation of the Paper World’s concept and the setup of the exhibition space. Before the outbreak of the war, although Finland was the leader in manufacturing cotton and linen textiles in the Nordic countries, the production was dependent on imported raw materials and machinery (Singleton, 1986, pp. 58-59). After the war, Finland as a defeated country had to pay high reparations to the Soviet Union in the form of industrial goods and materials including wool, timber, paper, and wood pulp (Singleton, 1986, p. 66). Due to poor economics, the import of raw materials, such as cotton and linen, was stopped (Singleton, 1998, p. 147). When textile materials were scarce, paper string as a material of little value (and thus not required to supply to the Soviet Union) became one of the few materials available9 for Finnish designers to use between the 1940s and 1950s (Kruskopf, 1975, p. 73; Priha, 1999, p. 124). As a result, people’s everyday life around this period frequently included products made of paper string, such as clothes, shoes, curtains, and upholstery. Together with Dewey’s attitude of makers as viewers, paper string’s everydayness in the Finnish design history led the design of Paper World to express the meaning of paper string through the functional objects’ forms and to choose a residential home converted into a gallery as the exhibition venue

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