Inspired by Chinese paper-cutting techniques, French designer Aline Houdé-Diebolt constructs worlds that burst with color using paper, her material of choice.
When Aline Houdé-Diebolt began her art studies, she took a well-rounded approach, dabbling in illustration and textile motifs as well as in a variety of materials ranging from wood to fabric. “With a background in textile design, I began dreaming up patterns, but each time in a different material, which eventually brought me to work with paper,” she explains.
Her stay at an art school in Shuozhou, China, where she studied calligraphy and embroidery among other skills, also influenced her choice for paper. It was there that Houdé-Diebolt came into contact with traditional Chinese paper cutting, “an art form that entails folding and cutting paper (namely red paper, a symbol of luck and happiness in China) with scissors to create motifs whose finesse recalls the delicacy of lace.”
Her work is remarkable not just for its complex three-dimensional pieces, which she constructs with tracing, tissue, drawing and construction papers, but also for its strong color statements, whose gaiety she equates with childhood. “I don’t work with the latest color trends, but with shades that appeal to me on a personal level,” she explains.
In 2016, Houdé-Diebolt was commissioned to decorate Korean beauty brand Hera’s new boutique in Seoul and created paper installations inspired by one of the brand’s makeup primary packaging designs, created by designer Eric Giriat. The artist reinterpreted the feather-like illustrations on the pack by creating giant paper discs. Up to one meter in diameter, they were composed of paper “feathers” in a rainbow of colors that were each glued by hand; the project called for 35,00 individual feathers.
Another project that Houdé-Dieboltholds dear was for Swiss watchmaker Parmigiani Fleurier. The project entailed transcribing through paper the inner workings of a watch dial. “One dial in particular is oval and its hands retract when they pass through the narrowest part of the face. The decor I designed does the same thing: it expands around the watch and takes the form of the watch it surrounds: a flat piece of paper in two dimensions was cut so that when it is pulled it opens up.”
Houdé-Diebolt also has personal projects. For the Revelations show at the Grand Palais in Paris in May she created an architectural mockup that she describes as “a patchwork of France’s different regional styles, but in the colors of Chile, the guest of honor at this year’s show.” She is currently working on a major window dressing project for a premium French luxury maison—her most ambitious project to date and one that is still under wraps…