2024/2025 Trends: Pao Hui Cao Paper Furniture

Designer Pao Hui Kao presented a collection of paper furniture as part of a solo exhibition at the Spazio Nobile Gallery in Brussels. The project “25 Seasons” brought together 50 objects and decorative panels. Pao Hui Kao is a graduate of the Eidhoven Design Academy and a finalist for the 2022 Loewe Craft Prize.

Benches, tables and stools are created by the designer from several layers of paper, combined into cellular structures and impregnated with rice glue. After drying, the furniture becomes durable and suitable for everyday use. The designer covers some of the products with natural urushi varnish with the addition of colored piments to emphasize the textured surface of the items.

In contrast to the previous works in the Paper Pleats series, the objects in the exhibition appear lighter and more graphic. Pao Hui Kao’s palette includes red, blue, and black. She applies pigmented varnish to the pieces with a special tool, working with the thickness of the lines, as in traditional Chinese calligraphy. The designer was forced to turn to the study of natural materials due to allergies to some chemical compounds, but after the restrictions, they turned into a new field for experiments.

The exhibition also features decorative panels by Pao Hui Kao from the Lacquer Leafs series. The technology of their creation is similar: the designer impregnates the paper with rice glue, and then applies layers of urushi varnish and colored pigments. The 25 paintings represent the 25 Seasons. The concept refers to the lunisolar calendar that is used in Asian countries, with the addition of another season to the standard 24. It takes weeks and sometimes months for the work to be made before all 25 layers of varnish have hardened. “Depending on the climate, the result will always be unpredictable,” the designer adds.

Photo: Pao Hui Cao, Spazio Nobile Gallery

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