Matthew Shlian

A complete retrospective of the paper engineer and artist, documenting a decade of unrivalled and unexpected creativity.

  • $52.00

Since its invention in around 100 BC, paper has become a cornerstone of civilization, its uses multifarious, its materiality reassuring, its essence a key component of the human experience. And yet, with the proliferation of digital culture and rising concern for our forests, paper and the contents it often contains appear to be under threat, rather than celebrated for their permanence in a time when information is ephemeral – swiped screen – and true knowledge seeks to find new roots.

Paper is more precious, more meaningful and more connected to human experience than it ever has been. Artist Matthew Shlian has always recognized paper’s significance as a medium and message, as a material for experimentation and understanding. In his hands, engineering, science, geometry are made form in paper. Folded, tessellated, compressed, extrapolated – two-dimensional paper becomes three-dimensional sculpture in beautiful and unexpected ways.

Unfolding is the first monograph of Shlian’s genius, compiling his most important work over the past decade. A journey into the new possibilities of folding technology, the intricate complexities of Islamic patterns, and the sheer potential offered by a sheet of white paper, Unfolding is celebration of a humble material, on the edge of its existence, elevated to timeless form and possibility.


Johanne Lian Olsen


Stuart Kestenbaum
Lawrence Weschler
Eric Broug


256 x 256 mm
256 pages
Hardcover with flush trim

Meet the author

Matthew Shlian is an artist, paper engineer and founder of the Initiative Artist Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He holds an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy, located near Detroit, Michigan. His work extends from drawings to large-scale installations to collaborations with leading researchers and scientists. His work for the National Science Foundation explores paper-folding structures on the macro level translated to the nano-scale. His client list includes Apple, P&G, Facebook, Levi’s, Sesame Street and the Queen of Jordan.