Giant Paper Creatures Cut Down the Food Industry

A papercraft critique comes into full-view in Zim & Zou’s paper-sculpture installation for Milan Expo 2015.

by Sami Emory
22 May 2015, 3:45pm

All images courtesy of the artists, via

Potentially harmful (and decidedly unnatural) food industry technologies come into sharp and vibrant focus in Zim & Zou’s paper-sculpture installation, Edible Monsters. Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann, the French pair behind the work, presented it at the Milan Expo 2015, taking their inspiration from the theme for this year’s festival, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” In six brightly colored hexagonal frames, intricate, composite paper sculptures tackle tough environmental topics including insecticide, medicinal abuse, battery farming, chemical ingredients, genetic manipulation, and GMOs. “We decided to depict some of the bad aspects of the food industry in an humorous and satirical way,” the artists tell The Creators Project. “Our aim was to encourage passers-by to think about this problem from a different point of view.” 

Leading up to the project’s debut, the papercraft artists faced four months of challenges, beginning with the very scale and scope of the pieces. “This kind of project has a very long creation process as everything [until] the smallest detail is made by hand,” they explain. “To give you an example, each piece of the corns are unique and has a number... It’s like a puzzle, or the best way to get an headache [...] Another challenging aspect was that most of the time, paper objects are meant to be quite small, because of their obvious fragility."

The finished pieces depict fields of mutant, murderous sunflowers to represent the implications of insecticide, a bugged-out fish swimming in a sea of extra-large pills to represent the pharmaceutical drugs that end up in water supplies, a cage of battery farmed chickens, a 3D-printed layering of chemicals in a myriad of artificial colors, a genetically manipulated multi-eared bunny, and cornfields of GMO corn. 

But it didn't stop there. Once these colossal scenes were assembled, the duo faced a daunting journey: “We had to divide the biggest pieces into several parts so they could still get out of the studio and avoid damages during their trip,” the artists explain. “As we’re working in our studio in Nancy (France), the objects had to survive to transportation. In fact, paper sculptures don’t really appreciate 700km (435mi) in the back of a truck... So if an important element is damaged during the shipping, it’s very difficult (and sometimes impossible) to repair or replace. I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s always surprising to see this kind of installation in a public space.” 

Check out more of Edible Monsters below, and see more from Zim & Zou on their website:


Abstract Origami Is More Than Crumpled Paper

We Talked to the Artist Creating a Miniature City Out of Paper

Iconic Buildings Find Their Spirit Animals in New Illustration Series

food industry
Zim & Zou
Edible Monsters
Paper Sculpture
Milan Expo 2015