Recycling is the right thing to do, of course, but it takes on a whole new value when you see the cool creations that designers can dream up from “waste” paper.

Designers Jasna Sokolovic and Noel O’Connell of Dear Human love to explore what they call “the blurred zone,” where art and function overlap. That’s where they feel design and art can be free, not restricted by expectations. “While design considers the functional, aesthetic, economical and sociopolitical aspects of the object and its production,” they explain, “the creation of art is less hindered by such constraints.”

recycled paper art

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They turn recycled paper into handmade sculptures that double as light shades, chairs, bowls, jewelry and more, adding subtle swaths of color to brighten the natural paper look. Some items, of course, are simply sculptures, designed purely to be enjoyed. The varied texture of the paper pulp and the unusual, sometimes wacky, shapes lend themselves to catch the eye of the beholder.

Even their furniture is whimsical, such as the three-legged Milking Stool, which the designers say is based on handmade stools they’ve seen on their travels. The farm stools they’ve studied along the way have been built from whatever wood the farmers had on hand. One constant, however, is that they are designed to be low to the ground and sturdy but lightweight, to help the farmer move the stool easily from cow to cow at milking time. The Dear Human milking stool has a handle so city dwellers too can carry it from room to room, regardless of whether or not they have a dairy herd to tend to.

bibliotecque paper chair

The 1960s-style Biblioteque chair started life as part of a paper tableau exhibited during an art-in-public-spaces festival in Waterloo, Ontario. At one point the chair found its way into a public library, “where, surrounded by books, it contextually challenged the preconceptions of what paper is for and its limitations as a fragile material,” Sokolovic and O’Connell explain. Talk about coming full circle. And they tell us it was designed to be comfortable, as well as making a statement, so it’s the best of both worlds.


We love the Dear Human lamp shades, and their Pulplights were the design that started the company’s foray into everything light-related. Pulplights have colorful fabric cords and boast many different shade-color combinations, so it’s easy to match a room’s decor to show them off to maximum advantage. Additionally, this year saw the debut of a second generation of Pulplights, which Sokolovic and O’Connell call Amis de Lumière. The lights come with either ceramic tops (flowerpot-shaped this time, rather than the previous, mostly triangular versions) or recycled paper tops.


Other quirky, tube-like creations that function as art and also stools or side tables are part of Dear Human’s Paperscapes series and were introduced this year. “Using recycled paper sourced from the local industry waste, and drawing from our sculptural backgrounds, we have manipulated it in a similar way to how clay can be sculpted and have created limited-edition functional stools/side tables,” say the designers.

These items, and many more, can be purchased directly from the company’s online shop.