Sunday, 3 May 2015

F O L D E D...

Text: Hina Nitesh

Monsoon arrives early in God's own country. These days our evenings are soaked with pre-monsoon showers which act as a dampener as far as the boys' cricket is concerned. The silver lining however is puddles of water in which they row their own boats. Making boats with the help of Origami or the art of folding paper is one of the first crafts that children learn. 

In its traditional form origami starts with a square sheet of paper which is folded in different ways to create a sculptural product. There is no concept of cutting the paper or gluing it for making the right shape. Origami miniaturizes products of daily life, making them like toys in the hands of kids.

Image Courtesy: 1.Coralina tablelight 2. Pineapple Lighting 3. Torus Pendant Fixture 4. Seven Star Pendant Light

Image Courtesy 5&6. Laura Kishimoto at, 7. Shige Hasegawa at

 Clean lines and simple geometric forms are the hallmark of origami sculptures. The end product can be as big as the square paper can allow it to be or like modules smaller paper sculptures can fit into one another to create a larger form. Mathematical concepts too are incorporated in the design of origami models.

Image Courtesy: 8. Embedded Project China. Klein Bottle House Australia

'Out of the box thinking' is a term which all designers are familiar with. This encourages them to find solutions of a problem in places where no one else would even think of looking. Call it inspiration or call it concept, designers have borrowed techniques from nature, from crafts, from things around them to create a totally different product.

Image Courtesy: 10. strictlypaper.com11.

Image Courtesy: JamberJewels at 
Of late designers are using the minimalist concept of origami to create practical life size products. It helps designers by enabling them to incorporate flexibility into the final products. With a few twists and turns, a 2D object can be turned into a 3D useable one. This also helps in simplifying product packaging.
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Image Courtesy: Natalia Ponomareva at

What is is about origami that makes it so popular? Is it the simplicity of the technique or the fact that it is easy to do? For me, it is the fact that the same sheet of square paper by the act of folding can be transformed into so many different things.  

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 The same concept is used in creating architectural marvels, consumer products, furniture, jewelry and for those who think it is too rigid and geometric, it might come as a surprise to see fashion designers using it. In fact, the  graphic designers too have used the clean lines origami patterns for designing logos which convey the right thought.

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Image Courtesy:Top. Pepe Heykwood oop at www.innerdesigncom, Bottom.
Visually, origami has a child-like simplicity to it but for can be used for recreating complex forms as well. A little research on the internet informs me that the concept has been developed for deploying car airbags and stent implants from a folded position1 

Image Courtesy: wood carpet by Elisa Strozyk at

The plain lines and the geometric forms take me back to my own childhood when endless sheets of coloured papers magically turned into flowers, birds, boats, planes, fans etc.  And when I see the boys making boats to float in the puddles of rain water, I can see that the art form is timeless and waiting to be exploited to its full potential by the designers. 

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