If Aidan Leitch was an Industrial Design student, I think any ID professor would give him an A-plus for this project. (Leitch, a self-described "shape enthusiast," is actually a Mechanical Engineering student at USC.) Leitch has intensively studied the material of paper and conducted a series of experiments to see how he could re-shape it, using mostly household technologies. After pulping it in a blender with water, then combining it with a DIY binding agent made from rice, Leitch figured out how to press it into a wood-like material using 3D-printed molds:
He then sought to make useful objects out of the stuff:
Along the way, Leitch learned that the material takes to detailed texture well—the striations from the 3D-printed molds showed up sharply—and can be sanded and drilled through with relatively clean holes. He also conducted some torture-testing to see what would make it break, landing on water as the enemy of this material.
Even more impressive than the end product is Leitch's process, which you can see below. Hands-on and curiosity-driven, Leitch does his homework, understands that experimentation requires relentless iterating, and after successfully realizing his creation, literally takes a hammer and a torch to it to see what would make it fail. He understands the capabilities and limitations of the material thoroughly. He also cites his direct inspiration for the project, which was the similar technique he witnessed while interning at 3D Brooklyn, a design and prototyping firm.