A unique creative universe is found in a small studio on Islands Brygge in Copenhagen. There are paper objects in a range of sizes and shelves filled with sheets of paper in every size imaginable, just waiting to be folded or cut. Amanda Betz is an architect from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, but her work has always involved creativity. Her mother worked as a set designer and often brought her work home with her. Working from their living room, Amanda often gave her mother advice, “My mother taught me to see. Her perspective was that I should decide on aesthetics and have an opinion about this. I think this helped me to be taken seriously from an early age. This has led me to constantly keep looking at what I am doing.”
Through her work at the Danish Art Workshops, Amanda’s eyes were opened to the potential of paper. Throughout her education, Amanda always used paper to construct models, so working with paper as a medium was natural to her. As she continued working with paper her interest grew, “I feel that paper can do the same thing as clay in terms of creating sculptures and in reality, paper can do so much more. There's a freedom and playfulness in paper that you won't find anywhere else. By having extreme precision in the work, you can allow parts of it to be more random and natural when everything else is well defined. The eye sees the contrasts between the stringent and the random, which is something I find quite interesting.”
When observing Amanda's works, many of them can best be described as architectural, multi-dimensional constructions in paper. Amanda's creative process is also three-dimensional because that's precisely how she conceives new ideas. Amanda feels that her work should bring excitement to the viewer and represent something that paper had never been associated with or used for, until then. With these thoughts in mind, Amanda sets about exploring and testing her ideas. As she describes it, everything she does is an experiment, until she succeeds.
“One of the limitations in working with paper is that it is a material that requires you to be careful with it. But this is also a feature that gives paper its beauty and poetic feel, because the works must be handled with care.”
For ferm LIVING's Christmas collection, Amanda has created the Paper Star Sun, Christmas Paper Tassels and Christmas Paper Cones, all produced from FSC™ certified paper. They are characterised by their playful and modern approach to traditional Christmas paper cuttings, of which Danish author Hans Christian Andersen had a lesser-known talent for, while remaining in line with Amanda Betz's stringent architectural design expression.
Amanda had been encouraged to make paper Christmas decorations for many years, but when she finally embraced the idea and began cutting, her goal was not to make them look cute and adorable. So, when the collaboration with ferm LIVING presented itself, she had no doubt that the match was there, “The products are very tactile - there are special textures involved in everything ferm LIVING makes. There are also many playful elements, both in the children's collection and in their products for grownups, where you will find products that are “quirky individuals”. The aesthetics and this playful approach to decorating a home was something I could relate to.”
Amanda's design for Paper Star Sun originally began as a door wreath. But once Amanda began working on the design, the paper took her in a different direction, “I made a lot of folds, and scaled the work up so it could become a wreath. But once I tied it with a ribbon, I could see that something happened. I tightened it even more and suddenly I could see the star in front of me.”
The result was a modern Christmas star folded from a single sheet of paper, which is characterised by its open sides and gives the viewer direct insight into the beautiful construction that is reminiscent of traditional Japanese origami. Amanda explains that one of the special things about the Christmas decorations for ferm LIVING is their fragility and ability to play with light and shadows, “One of the limitations in working with paper is that it is a material that requires you to be careful with it. But this is also a feature that gives paper its beauty and poetic feel, because the works must be handled with care. Works of art produced with paper also have a unique ability to convey light and shadow, as light can play with the paper and cast the most beautiful shadows. This aspect is a strong feature in Christmas Paper Tassels and Christmas Paper Cones, where the silhouettes have so much life.”
When asked how she decorates for Christmas, Amanda says with a smile, “There's a lot of paper.” Amanda is an all-round aesthete and decorating her home for Christmas is something she really enjoys. But for Amanda, the feeling of Christmas isn't necessarily dependent on particular objects or traditions, it's about relationships and enjoying each other's company in a cosy setting. So, whether Christmas is celebrated at home with mum, where familiar childhood traditions are found, or whether it's in her mother in law’s glitter-filled living room, Christmas still feels like home: “Before I had children, I thought Christmas had to be a certain way. But that's not how it works. There are so many people and emotions involved in Christmas and everyone celebrates in different ways, so for me, Christmas has come to be about presence. It can be changeable, as long as I'm with the people I care about.”