There’s a whole world of potential in a blank sheet of paper, but few folks can turn something flimsy and flat into 3D magic like Irving Harper. The creative legend — now 98 years-old! — did industrial and graphic design for Herman Miller during its dynamic mid-century era, but his legacy also includes an incredible personal collection of paper sculptures.
Intricate masks and castles and creatures and abstract constructions emerge from all the niches, walls, and surfaces in Harper’s lovely, lived-in home in Rye, New York. Last year, a monograph from Rizzoli offered an unprecedented glimpse into this private wonderworld he’s crafted by cutting, scoring, bending, and glueing, but now a selection of these pieces are on display in a solo exhibition at the Rye Arts Center.
Harper says the art initially appealed to him because it didn’t require any elaborate tools, and without so much as doing a preliminary sketch, he would be able to recreate with his hands and minimal materials what was going on in his head.
There’s something incredibly joyful about these; they were so clearly made by someone who absolutely adores the process as much as the craft, both of which helped deliver him through some of the most important decades in the pantheon of modern design. [Herman Miller: Why]