Matthew Shlian

A stunning monograph and complete retrospective of the work of paper engineer and artist Matthew Shlian, covering a decade of unrivaled and unexpected creativity.


Since its invention in approximately 100 BCE China, paper has been a cornerstone of civilization. The invention of paper shaped currency, communication, history, and religion. And yet, perhaps because of its widespread accessibility today, paper is underestimated as an artistic medium.

Artist Matthew Shlian has always recognized paper’s significance as a medium and message, and as a material for experimentation and understanding. In his hands, engineering, science, and geometry form stunning and unexpected art. Folded, tessellated, compressed, extrapolated, two-dimensional paper becomes three-dimensional sculpture. Since he began in 2004, Shlian’s signature paper engineering has gained international recognition and led to collaborations with Apple, SUPREME, Shinola, Herman Miller, Warp Records, Sesame Street, and exhibitions around the world.

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 the celebration of a humble material, on the edge of its existence, elevated to timeless form and possibility.


Matthew Shlian


Matthew Shlian is an artist, paper engineer, and founder of the Initiative Artist Studio in Ann Arbor, 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.