POP-UP books are a wonder of paper engineering that surprise and delight the reader with their inventive ways to manipulate paper and create three dimensional movement on traditionally two dimensional medium. Featured in the fourth season of BBC 100 Women Entrepreneurs, Rumana Sharmin has been lauded as the pioneer of pop-up book making in Bangladesh. Her passion to do something unique by herself met halfway with her wish to do something new and innovative as she began experimenting with paper engineering. For her creations, the designer prefers the term interactive books as their design gives the reader an opportunity to interact with the story and its characters. Armed with her artistic skills and entrepreneurial spirit, she delved into the world of interactive book making in 2015 founding Da Pop-Up Factory.
One of Rumana’s main goals was to introduce the children of Bangladesh to Muktijuddho from a new perspective. In that regard, Chotto Khokon is one of her proudest accomplishments. Its pop-up design of the Jaityo Sriti Shoudho shows the readers the uniqueness of the real architectural design with its seven inversely proportional walls. With a story written by Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, Chotto Khokon is a delightful piece of work that stimulates the curiosity of a reader at any age. Rumana also wants to work on the Battle of Plassey and other historical events of Bangladesh that shaped its identity so that the future generations have a strong grasp of their roots.
The designer does a wonderful job of working with topics on general knowledge, geography, fantasy as well as hygiene and manners for children and others. With a wide ranging form of constructions that include fold, pull, pop, turn and lift techniques, her collection of books are as diverse as they are beautiful and thought provoking. Zahara’s Chocolate Box is a regular story book with a back cover that plays with the expression of the main character. Bhutu is about a charming little ghost who plays hide and seek with the reader beyond the book’s see through pages. Treasure Hunt, is all about ﬁnding clues for the fortune hidden under ﬂaps of the leg of wardrobes and what not.
Given the complex construction of the books, Rumana was initially greeted with complete refusal. Yet, the young entrepreneur did not lose heart. Without a factory or a trained workforce, Rumana had to go the extra mile to convince people that such workmanship is possible in Bangladesh with the existing technology. She explained, ‘Actually, many things are unexplored in Bangladesh because those with the skills are not familiar with the application of their expertise in a new ﬁeld. They have their own terms and phrases that they use to communicate. You have to speak to them in their own language if you want to get anything done.’
So, the designer found a way to communicate with the people from the printing and packaging factories and explained to them what she was looking for. For every book, Rumana goes through a trial and error phase where she makes the entire book by hand. Once, she comes up with a complete handcrafted sample, she sends it out so the trainers can show the workers how to get the project done. A book slowly comes together as the workers put their respective skills into the layering, texting, dicing, binding and packaging of the whole book. Depending on the complexity of the design, a book may take anywhere between 10 to 30 days for at least 1500 copies.
Available in PBS and Pathak Shamabesh, these brilliantly illustrated, multi-dimensional works of art from Da Pop-Up Factory capture a world of awe and excitement within its folds and lifts, mesmerizing and inspiring the readers with the endless possibilities of art, engineering and storytelling.
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