Natchar Sawatdichai is saving blinds from blandness

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Blinds. You love them or you hate them. Well, it’s difficult to feel an emotion as strong as “love” for a window dressing so bland. Plastic blinds are associated with banal office interiors. They are the ubiquitous fixture of environments that are trying to avoid the cosy domesticity that curtains bring. Blinds mean business. Sure, wooden blinds can add an appearance of warmth to a room. They are less soulless than their plastic grey counterparts. But they are not so common. And all blinds are a pain to clean. Rant aside, here is a project that makes me feel interested in the possibilities of this window dressing as an aesthetic addition to a space.

Natchar Sawatdichai is a Thai designer who recently graduated with a Master in Product and Furniture from Kingston University in London. Paper Blinds was part of her final submission. In this design project, Sawatdichai makes a proposition for replacing what she calls “over-qualified materials” — something consumers did not actually specifically ask for — with more sustainable options that take fewer resources to produce and dispose of. She takes paper and commits to pushing its potential as an aesthetic and durable material for home decorative purposes. By experimenting with paper cutting and folding techniques, the designer has created beautiful three-dimensional texture that can add interesting detail to an interior. I can imagine these used as room dividers, not only on windows. The expanded colour range is one benefit of using paper. Paper Blinds also employ a unique folding mechanism that shrinks the rectangular hanging into a smaller rounded shape. They can also be cut down to size in length and width. The process of cutting and creasing is automated, but hand folding and gluing each set takes approximately 6–7 hours of manual work.

These blinds may prove to be quite a challenge to clean, and it is uncertain how they will stand up to moisture and the fading rays of the sun. However, the Sawatdichai envisions that the main part of the product can be easily extracted from the framing and replaced, being easy to recycle and replace. It is an interesting proposition. If these go into larger scale production, the design may be further improved and optimised. I appreciate the fresh take on a banal design anyway. Check out Natchar Sawatdichai’s website and Instagram account for updates.