How to create something new straight out of a ROWSE paper box? Inspired by the shape of a pair of gourds from her grandparents’ house in Puerto Rico and using the traditional Kashmir method of making paper mâché, super talented Anabella Anger has crafted the most amazing set of lamps working with ROWSE recycled and reusable packaging.
Hi, Anabella, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I was born in south Florida and spent a lot of my childhood summers and holidays in Puerto Rico, specifically the East side of the island where the rainforest is. My mother is a music teacher who previously studied interior design and my father , he does it all! But mainly he is a man who can build anything and works with boats - which I believe is what influenced my broad board of talents and interests. I am currently living in south Florida , dreaming up a plan of buying a house in Puerto Rico. I work as a freelance model and artist while going to school for anthropology.
So you started studying architecture and you’re actually studying anthropology and more into art and interior design. How do these fields connect with each other?
I have always been interested in architecture but once I was sitting in a room with architecture students and professors I felt that there was no freedom in the field. Art and anthropology have always fascinated me, there is such fluidity in both fields, a forever road of expansion and knowledge which I admire. I often ponder how to merge these two fields and create something for myself. I have found a connection of history, tradition of different regions around the world and have used them to influence my work. Who knows where the universe will take me and what I will learn and create.
How did you come up with the idea for these beautiful lamps?
My grandmother gifted me two gourds a while back, they are from her home in Puerto Rico. She's held onto them for more than 20 years now. I’ve always had them displayed in my home, either as a bowl or just on their own. I imagined more from them which is how I visualized a lamp in their shape. A symbol of home and the land where my family is.
Tell us about the process.
For these gourd lamps I used a combination of papers. I wanted to use ROWSE’s boxes because they are thin, recyclable and reusable. The process takes time, there is a lot of drying time, patience and trial and error. Paper mâché can be delicate at times, especially the first stage when I am making the base mould from the gourd. I make a clay or pulp out of paper and boxes - the method is from the Kashmir region, which dates back to the 14th century. There is also a lot of thought that goes into the colours I choose for the lamps - I go through books, photographs and see what specific colours inspire me when I am creating.
What do you like about paper mâché?
Handmade objects show dedication and thought, they have a deeper meaning and connection to us. And paper mâché is endless. It is the foundation to what your hands are able to create. It is about utilizing what is around you to create something functional: it can be made from old receipts, a skin care box, toilet paper roll - the list goes on. I also grew up working with paper mâché - my father would set up a table in the middle of our overgrown backyard and I'd spend hours creating masks and abstract sculptures. I enjoyed how messy the process is and still do!
Your work shows great design and also draws attention to environmental issues such as upcycling and sustainability. Tell us a bit about this approach.
Making sure my impact and footprint is kept minimal and with thought and care is crucial to my work. With paper mâché I am able to gather items around me that often go to waste and create something functional - I wanted to create something that we often see in spaces but with a story. I love being in a room and looking over at my lamps and saying that they are made from paper , by my very own hands. I also wanted to tie in my background and nature into my work which is where the gourd comes into place - taking a shape from the natural land and using it as a form for my lamps.
Where would you like to take this project to? Would you like to explore other materials?
I dream of my lamps and other functional items that I am working on to be placed in several spaces around the world. In homes of individuals, in community spaces, in hotels where travellers pass through - I want my work to ignite a conversation about what ‘home’ means to that person, about the environment, about creation. A foundation for thought. As for exploring other materials - I will forever continue reading and researching methods, creations, traditions from all around the world and applying them to what is to come.