This Is Paper

Related Staff : Dennis Cheung

Student: Tse Fergal Yau Wai & Huynh Ngoc Anh Duy
Supervisor: Dennis Cheung

‘This Is Paper’ explores the possibilities that paper as a material holds after its initial use. The research project aims to provide new potential avenues and applications for recycled paper through the creation of three new materials and their corresponding fabrication methodologies.

In the context of Hong Kong, the ability to upcycle paper proves even more important as paper constitutes the third-largest source of municipal waste in the city. With no existing paper recycling plant, paper was typically exported to be recycled abroad. However, as importing regulations tighten in China and South East Asia, the city is struggling to divert paper away from its overflowing landfills.

From the beginning, ‘This Is Paper’ has always been rooted in creating applications that can not only produce but also scale the materials developed. This approach provided certain limitations, but it also ensured that the project’s outputs were not a poke in the dark but rather pointed research towards real-life applications. ‘This Is Paper’ is not just an attempt to create something new, it is a process through which we can learn from, work with, and harness one of the biggest sources of waste in our direct vicinity.

The project yields three materials based on three fabrication methods: casting, lamination, and 3D printing. By providing options with different barriers of entries, we hope that other designers can pick up and apply these materials based on their own needs and abilities.


Using a combination of paper pulp, plaster, and xanthan gum to experiment with ways to reinforce paper through casting, plaster allowed paper pulp to be moulded into different shapes and sizes against plaster’s brittleness, whilst being used as a mortar to connect different materials together.


Through curling up waste paper into rolls and compressing them, lamination was used as a fabrication method to create a planar material that can be further processed using traditional timber fabrication techniques. This material, which emulates timber, allows for paper to be used as a structural system through joinery systems, and also as a load-bearing slab.

3D Printing

By combining paper, sand, and xanthan, a mixture was created that can be used to 3D print volumetric objects using an extruder and robotic arm configuration. Once dried, this material provides the potential to be used as a support system as well as a binding agent.

As a proof of concept for our materials, we have created three stools that utilize the materials in complementary ways. By combining contemporary fabrication methods with everyday material, ‘This is Paper’ opens up the possibilities that paper holds after its consumption, and proposes alternate methods to give paper a new life.

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