The Magic of Pa­per

Upscale Living Magazine - - Content - An­gela Sarah West

An­gela Sara West chats with Parisian pa­per­craft per­fec­tion­ist, Mathilde Nivet, about her de­signs for lux­ury brands, in­clud­ing Chanel, Louboutin and Bul­gari and her stun­ning in­stal­la­tion, The English Garden, cur­rently on dis­play in London’s pres­ti­gious Burling­ton Ar­cade.

Paris-based pa­per artist, set de­signer, il­lus­tra­tor and art direc­tor, Mathilde Nivet, cuts no cor­ners with her won­der­ful work. Her show-stop­ping cre­ations have graced the win­dows of lux­ury fash­ion houses, in­clud­ing Chanel, Louis Vuit­ton and Guer­lain, nu­mer­ous cam­paigns, and the pages of high-end publi­ca­tions, in­clud­ing Vogue, Le Monde and Van­ity Fair.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Paris’s École Du­perré, Mathilde be­gan work­ing and cre­at­ing with her pas­sion - pa­per. Her unique style and skill re­warded her with early suc­cess. “I started play­ing with pa­per 15 years ago while I was do­ing my tex­tile de­gree. I chose to work with old let­ter en­velopes and ev­ery­thing started from there.”

From in­tri­cate origami jew­elry and del­i­cate flo­ral ar­range­ments, to fairy-tale pa­per cas­tles and en­tire lan­tern-lit minia­ture cities, her var­ied, ex­quis­ite pa­per de­signs demon­strate the creative pos­si­bil­i­ties and de­tailed aes­thetic the medium of­fers. “What I love most is ‘think­ing with my hands’, find­ing new ideas dur­ing the process by cre­at­ing. Also, for me, pa­per seems to have no lim­its… I al­ways find new things with this ma­te­rial. Pa­per is syn­ony­mous with beauty and free­dom… Pa­per is the best!”

Mathilde’s elab­o­rate con­struc­tions and il­lus­tra­tions take vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing to a whole new level. Her in­cred­i­ble pop-up tech­nique com­bines fold­ing, dé­coupage and mon­tage to cre­ate three-di­men­sional ar­chi­tec­ture, of­ten on a very large scale. Her stun­ning style has been de­scribed as ‘dreamy, ro­man­tic and in­tox­i­cat­ing’. Mathilde, her­self, de­scribes it as ‘del­i­cate, fem­i­nine and sen­si­tive’, and it’s not hard to see why pres­ti­gious names, such as Her­mès and Bul­gari, are adorn­ing their win­dows with her ex­cep­tional cre­ations.

Last year, Mathilde sus­pended more than 300 pa­per birds over the en­tire length of London’s pres­ti­gious Burling­ton Ar­cade in the heart of af­flu­ent May­fair. This sum­mer, the Burling­ton Ar­cade is de­lighted to present her lat­est stun­ning in­stal­la­tion, The English Garden, com­posed of thou­sands of beau­ti­ful flow­ers and leaves.

“Eng­land is fa­mous for its charm­ing gardens,” Mathilde ex­plains. “This was some­thing that struck me the most the first time I came to UK, and the mag­nif­i­cent London parks still con­tinue to in­spire me to­day. With this art in­stal­la­tion, I wanted to pay a trib­ute to the beauty of the English garden.”

En­tirely made of pa­per, the draw­ing, as­sem­bling and in­stalling of the two in­stal­la­tions re­quired hun­dreds of hours of work. To cre­ate

her in­spired de­signs, Nivet starts with a sheet of pa­per and turns it into the un­end­ing sculp­tural shapes and pat­terns that form her po­etic work. The del­i­cate re­sults re­quire an in­tense process of draw­ing, cut­ting and glu­ing be­fore they are metic­u­lously as­sem­bled and ar­ranged.

“I chose flow­ers which I be­lieve sym­bol­ise the essence of English gardens. In th­ese two in­stal­la­tions, you will find hy­drangeas, anemones, wis­te­ria, yarrow, dog­wood, iris, clema­tis, morn­ing glory and, of course, beau­ti­ful roses. Na­ture, and flow­ers es­pe­cially, have al­ways been a key source of in­spi­ra­tion for my work and have been present in my art from the be­gin­ning. There are strong con­nec­tions be­tween my pa­per art and the flo­ral world as they are both ephe­meral, grace­ful and frag­ile. In ad­di­tion, there is per­fect har­mony be­tween my cre­ations and the crafts­man­ship that is syn­ony­mous with The Burling­ton Ar­cade.”

“It was a fun project to do, be­cause with big pro­jects such as this, I hire a team of five or six free­lancers and it’s al­ways a great time work­ing to­gether. It was a bit like work­ing in a flower shop, so kind of a dream!”

In­spired by na­ture, Ja­pan and con­tem­po­rary art, she’s also hugely in­flu­enced by other pa­per­crafters. “I love the work of my friend, Benja Har­ney (Paper­form). I’m also im­pressed by the artist Fideli Sundqvist and the Ja­panese brand, Ter­ada Mokei. On In­sta­gram, I’m amazed by the sculp­tures of “wood­lucker”.”

Mathilde’s two go-to trade fairs are FIAC in Paris and the Art Bi­en­nale in Venice. The se­cret to her phe­nom­e­nal suc­cess? “A lot of work! A dif­fer­ent use of color, a more per­sonal way of treat­ing the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of el­e­ments, by be­ing more sen­si­tive and del­i­cate maybe. Also, as I started be­fore most of the pa­per artists, I’m maybe more ex­pe­ri­enced!”

There have been a fair few im­pres­sive high­lights dur­ing her ca­reer in pa­per­craft. “My first win­dow dis­play in 2008 (for the Post Mu­seum’s shop in Paris), my first work for a lux­ury brand (Bul­gari in 2011), my first col­lab­o­ra­tion with Her­mès in 2011, my first magazine ed­i­to­rial in 2012 (for Madame Fi­garo), and when I was com­mis­sioned to con­ceive and pro­duce a set for each of the 36 win­dow dis­plays for Chanel Jew­elry in 2013.”

How does it feel to see her stun­ning cre­ations dis­played in such pres­ti­gious venues? “I feel so proud (as does my mum)! It’s also a big op­por­tu­nity to work with th­ese brands be­cause their peo­ple are so in­ter­est­ing and ed­u­cated, and they have the bud­get for re­ally good pro­jects. I also feel proud to be a part of this very long tra­di­tion of French craft ex­cel­lence.”

What’s cur­rently on her cut­ting mat? “My fa­vorite tools are scis­sors, more than cut­ters or a scalpel. My fa­vorite pa­per is clas­sic Bris­tol 180gr. I love all the tech­niques! My fa­vorite things to make are flow­ers, any kind of flow­ers or trees. My fa­vorite project, there­fore, is The English Garden, but also some pic­tures I made for Louboutin and the Birds pro­jects I made for Le Bon Marché and the Burling­ton Ar­cade.” What can we ex­pect next with Mathilde Nivet’s mag­nif­i­cent pro­jects? “Sev­eral in­stal­la­tions and win­dow dis­plays in Paris, but I’m not al­lowed to say more!”

Mathilde Nivet Stu­dio The Burling­ton Ar­cade 51 Pic­cadilly, May­fair, London, W1J 0QJ www.burling­tonar­

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