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UPDATED: January 5, 2010 Web Exclusive
Something Simple, Something Beautiful
A young designer keeps things simple with his artwork

A SIMPLE LIFE: Bai Minghui's simple and environmentally friendly lifestyle influences his artwork (SHI GANG)

A wallet that looks like a piece of newspaper, an atlas, or an express parcel receipt? Or a business card that looks like a notepad? No kidding.

Bai Minghui, a Beijing-based designer, creates his artwork using Tyvek, a synthetic paper material which is difficult to tear, waterproof and, more importantly, totally recyclable.

Born to a worker family in 1983 in Tangshan, Hebei Province, Bai worked as a graphic designer at a financial magazine in Beijing after graduating from Minzu University of China.

In the spring of 2008, Bai visited an exhibition about Tyvek in Beijing's 798 art zone, and then worked with the material, trying to bring his designs to life. The first thing that came into his mind was the paper wallet, a must-try handicraft assignment that most Chinese students do in elementary school.

"A paper wallet is definitely more useful than a paper crane or frog," Bai told Beijing Review, smiling. "At first, many people have no idea what it is, because it looks like a piece of newspaper or an express parcel receipt, and feels like real paper. But it's hard to tear.

"The completed, folded wallet is seamless, which creates so much fun for a designer. To be honest, I didn't think about profits at all," he said.

After months of research and development on printing and designing, the first generation of his paper wallet made a stunning debut in May 2008. The second generation, which offers a greater range of pattern options, was put on the market at the beginning of 2009.

"You can have graffiti or write down phone numbers on it, or paint whatever you like. I would like people to be able to use it easily," he said. "I don't want to do things without creative ideas. Now my focus is on how to create better design rather than the wallet itself."

Bai offered several eco-friendly tips that he uses in everyday life. For instance, he insists on collecting used batteries and sending them to recycle stations, and saving paper by using double-sided printing and writing on both sides of a sheet of paper.

The Copenhagen Climate Change Summit has made carbon footprints a hot topic, but Bai said he would not lead a low-carbon life for its own sake.

"I believe that it will take time to nurture a low-carbon lifestyle. Any irrational action should be avoided, as everyone's lifestyle should be fully respected," Bai told Beijing Review. "My lifestyle leads my design work to be more environmentally friendly. Don't think too much and keep life as simple as you can, which is what my works demonstrate."

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