A stronger second life
Living his first years in the South Korean city of Jeonju before moving to New Zealand as a ten-year-old, paper was a ubiquitous element of Woojai's early childhood. Jeonju is famous for its paper industries, and when his mother didn't take him to paper museums, they would often experiment with the material by making different objects out of paper pulp. WooJai's upbringing helped inform his decision when choosing a graduation project, but the exact form came to him as he was taking his trash out a few months before it was due. Seeing a bin filled with old newspapers, magazines and pamphlets, he thought about the short life span of most paper products. Many newspapers and pamphlets get read once, if even, before being thrown away. There and then he decided that the project would revolve around giving new life to old newspapers.
– It wasn't about just extending the lifespan of the paper but giving it new strength. Normally when paper gets recycled, it downgrades and becomes weaker, but I wanted to turn it into something strong and solid. After some thinking, I came up with the concept of bricks made out of paper and contacted a printing company that was happy to give me misprinted newspapers to make them, WooJai says.