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Class Notes
   

Model Citizen

It’s a small world after all! Or so Paul Pape, M.F.A. ’02, has discovered. Pape, a graduate of UCSD’s theater design program, is marketing a line of furniture no bigger than a thumb. Pape launched his models, which he calls Pop-Out Furniture, at the Texas Educational Theater Association (TETA) convention last January and received a dramatic ovation.

Every set designed for theater, television, film or opera starts its life as a model and, as Pape discovered, every model needs furniture. Making mini furniture is not the most rewarding part of the design process. “Anybody who builds scale models avoids making furniture because it’s so time consuming,” says Ron Ranson, lecturer emeritus in scenic design.

Pape wowed his fellow designers because he simplified model construction. He first designed models of furniture from various periods on computer, and then printed them on sheets of heavy-duty card stock. Finally he used a laser die cutter to partially stamp them out. Designers buy these sheets, paint the piece of furniture, pop it, fold it and place it in their model set. “Pop-Out Furniture’s a new twist on an old technique,” says Pape, who is now Assistant Professor of Design and Technical Director at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. “I’ve combined state-of-the-art computer design techniques with the centuries old practice of paper-folding.”

Pape first came up with the idea during the second year of his M.F.A. course in Theater Department. He was designing the set for the production “I Am My Own Wife” at the La Jolla Playhouse when he started to figure out how to streamline the process of model making.

Pape approached Ranson, one of his teachers, and told him what he was doing. “I went nuts over the idea,” says Ranson. “I mean to have someone who comes along and make 99 percent of the model furniture you need for your sets is a godsend.”

Ranson wasn’t the only one to be impressed. Pape’s Pop-Outs are now being carried by BMI Supply and Rose Brand, which are among the largest distributors of theatrical supplies in the country. The styles range from Colonial American to Art Nouveau, and Federal to 1950’s. He has also recently introduced a line of appliances including fridges and televisions. So visit his site online at www.popoutfurniture.com and indulge your tiniest fantasies.

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