Behind the Project: Impossibly Intricate Paper-Craft

In this series, we’ll look deeper into some of the projects on Behance.net that were especially admired in our community. This time, we spoke to Zim and Zou , (a French design studio formed by Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann) – whose paper-craft installations are constantly found in the “most appreciated” list. We spoke with them about these intricate sculptures on display in their latest, Cabinet de Curiosites.

What was your inspiration for this project?
We were inspired by the Cabinets of Curiosities of the 16th and 17th centuries, which were collections shown to the public full of all sorts of interesting things, mainly animals from around the world, strange artifacts, gems, skulls, and other crazy things. These “Cabinets of Curiosities” were the ancestors of Museums.

Can you describe your process in creating this project?
We looked a lot of engravings of the Cabinets before starting the project. Then, we chose to focus mainly on animals, so we studied shapes of birds, crustaceans, and insects. After doing rough drafts of the creatures, we started to work on the internal structures. It was pretty challenging because of the rounded shapes. As we are more used to working on geometric objects, dealing with “organic” elements was pretty difficult. The best solution that we found was to create the structure with rings of papers (to act as a skeleton), stuck together and covered with scotch and tissue paper to give it a smoother form. Then, we had to think about color harmonies, frames, and special cuts. Finally we installed the elements together on mid-tone colored backgrounds to shoot the pictures.

Did you expect it to be as popular as it’s been on The Behance Network?
Honestly, it’s always very difficult to know if a project will be appreciated or not! Especially for this project, because we used mid-tone papers, shining gold paper, glitter papers, framed papers – these colors are very different from the flashy colors we’re used to working with. We wanted to try something new for us and we’re very pleased that people like it!

Did you go through many versions and iterations before coming up with these final pieces?
Yes, we often go through many versions for the same work. I think that’s part of the reflexion process. We need to try a lot of compositions before selecting the best one.

Do you feel that this project is “done,” or is there anything you’d like to improve on or change in the future?
There are many things we would like to improve, or simply add more pieces to the project. We had to finish it in order to be exhibited at the Pick Me Up graphic art fair, so due to the timeline we couldn’t manage to do all the objects we planned to create, so unfortunately we had to make choices.

Did anything interesting happen as a result of the success of this project?  (fans contacting you, job opportunities, blogs picking it up, etc).
Of course, a lot of interesting things came up from this project – we’ve received some interesting exhibition propositions and features on blogs and press.  We’re very happy to see that people like our work and we’re very thankful for all the support we have from the community.