Design duo Adrian Woods and Gidi van Maarseveen – who run the Amsterdam-based multidisciplinary creative studio Adrian & Gidi – have applied their skills to a delightful new side project: the Tiny Paper Dollhouse. Let's take a tour.
Looking to downsize? You'd be hard-pressed to find a property smaller or more adorable than the Tiny Paper Dollhouse, carefully crafted by Adrian & Gidi. The little project was designed to give the pair a break from their commissioned work, and it sees everything from beds, easels, chairs and toilet rolls get shrunk down to tiny models carefully handmade out of paper.
Showcasing the craft and photography skills that the pair have honed since graduating from the Royal Academy of Arts in 2010, the Tiny Paper Dollhouse is a playful example of Adrian's practical and knowledgeable approach and Gidi's eye for detail and perfectionism.
Together they usually work to create commissioned work for clients such as ELLE magazine, as well as crafting advertising animations and eye-catching window displays made out of materials ranging from Styrofoam, plexiglass and wood. But paper is the material that has long stood out to them. "It has a lovely tactile look and feel, it's affordable, available in many colours, and it's very versatile. Over the years, paper turned into our specialisation while we develop our craft further."
Everyone needs to shake things up and take a break now and then, though. That's what lead to them creating the Tiny Paper Dollhouse. "Working almost exclusively on commissioned work can be a bit suffocating, despite the gratitude and security it offers," they explain.
"Sometimes you just feel like you must work on your own projects to let the creative energy flow. Nowadays, we tend to work less with our own hands with the commissions we get because we work with bigger teams. Spending a lot of time behind the computer and managing other people who craft takes up most of our time, which is why we sometimes feel the urge to work with our hands again ourselves."
The pair also describes creating the Tiny Paper Dollhouse as a "kind of therapy project", and it's not hard to see why. Carving out time to carefully cut out roof tiles, window frames and floorboards before carefully glueing them together sounds relaxing, almost meditative. "You can lose yourself," they add, when it comes to personal projects, "there are no deadlines or restrictions."
Speaking about where the idea to build a small dollhouse came from, the pair revealed that it was inspired by their daughter, who wanted to build one herself with them in the studio. "She was completely absorbed in it, and that inspired me. I wanted to do the same, but smaller, to challenge myself a little bit."
Planned out on the computer with Illustrator before being cut out with a plotter, the Tiny Dollhouse was then constructed with old-fashioned materials such as glue, scissors, X-Acto knives, masking tape, tweezers "and lots of patience."
And while carefully assembling all of the components might seem like a daunting prospect - one ill-timed breath could send everything flying across the table, after all - this wasn't the main challenge facing Adrian & Gidi. "The struggle that always happens when we work on projects is that it never feels finished or complete," they reveal. "I think this was the biggest struggle on this project as well.
"Also, because there is no time limit, you are in control of when something feels finished and done. A good lesson because if it's up to me, I can go on for a very long time. This is something that cannot necessarily work to our advantage in long-term projects."
Everything in the Tiny Paper Dollhouse, from the little desk plant to the fireplace and the overall display stand, captures Adrian & Gidi's work ethos: Playful but refined. "We always value a level of completeness in our work. Not cutting corners but keeping a high level of refinement.
"That said, our overall approach to the concept and use of colour, material and subject has an inherent playfulness to it. This thread has been throughout our work and hasn't changed since we started working together."
Updates on the Tiny Paper Dollhouse were shared on the pair's Instagram page while it was under construction. And while it attracted a lot of positive attention and comments from their followers, it originally sounded like they wouldn't be taking it any further.
"There was no real intention while working on this project," they reveal. "The intention was to be able to escape the working routine we have, to be able to create for yourself and not for someone else's purse. It's more about the process than the result.
"The main intention was to create some space in mind whilst working on something we really enjoy doing."
That being said, the overwhelming support on social media has prompted them to reconsider. According to a status update posted earlier his week, Adrian & Gidi are definitely looking into selling templates of the Tiny Paper Dollhouse so you can make your own at home. Where do we sign on the tiny dotted line?