East London designer Kyla McCallum admits she’s obsessed with origami.
This is a 28-year-old for whom the real fear at Halloween is the terror of tearing the paper hexagons she’s painstakingly folded into a tortoise shells. And her passion has become her profession with the creation of Foldability based in Bromley-by-Bow.
After launching in 2013 it has already won praise from Channel 4 Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud, secured a deal to sell in John Lewis and is breaking through into the American market.
It’s not animal designs winning the acclaim, it’s a debut collection of angular light shades.
The striking white Petra and Maya pendants caught the eye of distributors at last years’ London Design Festival and were showcased at the ICFF furniture event, in New York.
She said: “It’s a perfect match. The event works with designers, shops and museums, like the Museum of Modern Art.
“They are high end brands and my products are a bit more than high street because they take me so much time to make.”
Her fondness for folding started as part of her fashion degree project.
“It’s the geometry I’ve always been interested in and the mathematical spaces, so my designs are inspired by that and folding,” said Kyla.
“The lighting part was by accident. I needed to make something I could sell so started messing around with different shapes and put a bulb inside.
“The Leah pendant is my favourite but possibly my least favourite to make, as it takes forever.
“You have to separate it at different points and it’s got a steel frame that holds the structure – you can’t put that in too early, or it’ll collapse the paper.”
Kyla’s designs are now being made under the watchful eye of mentors from fashion retailer Ted Baker.
Next on the agenda is an online library of printed papers, designs, colours and styles such as pleating after she tested 100 samples for the perfect parchment.
“For me origami is so easy – once you do a couple of folds you can just imagine how something will look in 3D,” she said. “Some find it difficult – I’ve tried to teach people but some can’t fold a piece of paper in half.”
Products start at £100.
Go to foldability.co.uk .