It all started with a flat sheet of paper!

A few folds and whoosh…, a square piece of paper turns into a 3D object. We expound the journey of origami through design, detail and dexterity.continue reading….

Folding of land into mountains, blooming of flowers, blinking of eyelids, propagation of waves are illustrations of folding as a universal operation. Akin to Origami where there is neither addition nor subtraction, but a complete reconstruction by folding and creasing only. In the words of Robert Lang (an American physicist who is also one of the foremost origami artists and theorists in the world), “exploring the magic of how far you can change the paper just by folding”.



The modern growth of interest in origami is credited to Akira Yoshizawa and dates to about 1954 with the development of Yoshizawa-Randlett system to represent origami folds. Origami has drawn the keen interest of artists, scientists, mathematicians, engineers and craft enthusiasts into interpreting the world in paper.


Origami has been broadly categorised according to the process of folding and desired outcome of the final object. Traditional or pureland origami is defined by the restrictions that only simple mountain/valley folds may be used. Modular origami is a built form made up of smaller ‘unit’ objects made by traditional origami folds. Wet folding origami was made famous by the father of modern origami, Akira Yoshizawa, as an artistic endeavour. It involves folding a moist paper to render smooth edges to folded forms. Any origami folded object that can afford movement falls into the category of Action origami. This type of folding helps to create playable paper objects. Tessellation in origami, uses pleats to connect figures together in a repeating fashion.



Origami as a metamorphic form of art, has embraced, both scientific exploration and artistic expression. Sculptors and scientists work in the shadows between art and math like alchemists to bring forth spectacles that unravel the potential of a humble craft. Whenever there is a need in the industry to take a flat sheet and make it compact, there is a potential for origami to have an application. Artists like Michael G.LaFosse, Éric Joisel, Chris Palmer, Satoshi Kamiya, Eric Gjerde and scientists/ mathematicians like Robert Lang, Erik Demaine, Thomas C. Hull have explored origami within and way beyond its defined formats.

Photos: 1.Robert Lang, 2.Chris Palmer, 3.Satoshi Kamiya, 4.Eric Joisel, 5.Erik Demaine, 6.Michael G.LaFosse, 7.Eric Gjerde, 8.Thomas C.Hull


Interesting things happen at the edges. Origami at its edges is moving into the realms of abstraction and innovation. Erik Demaine, a computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has created at least one origami sculpture that “mathematically, cannot exist.”

Origami patterns can be deciphered through math & algorithms. Since mathematical formulas can be scaled to any size, so origami inspired designs can be applied in varying scales to disciplines including medicine and electronics.


Science has applied origami to map the transition between initial and final states, it has focused on studying the folding process. An example is airbag folding designs which unfold smoothly from their flat starting state to their final volume (Cromvik, 2007). Lang used origami to identify a design that would fit and maintain the integrity of the surface when deployed into space (Heller, 2003; Wu and You, 2010; Wei and Dai, 2009). Origami has also been applied to the crash box of a car to improve energy absorption in a low speed collision (Ma and You, 2010). Miura explored methods of folding maps that could be unfolded with the simple pull of a corner (Miura, 2002). In the 1980’s he invented the Miura-ori pattern, which is used as a basis for folding solar arrays (Miura and Natori, 1985). In 2005, Mahadevan published findings that this same pattern exists in leaf folding, wings, and flower petals (Mahadevan and Rica, 2005). {This paragraph is an excerpt from}

Starshade Optical Shield prototypes Left: 1/4 scale model of the optical shield, origami crease pattern designed by Robert Salazar, prepared by Chris Esquer-Rosas, Kenzo Neff, and Robert Salazar from cardboard. Right: 1/10 scale model of the optical shield, origami crease pattern generated with Robert Lang’s Eyeglass Flasher software, prepared by Mary Wilson, Kenzo Neff, and Robert Salazar from acrylic. At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
MIT’s aeroMorph is paper, plastic and fabric self-folding origami; ‘aeroForm’ has a lot of untapped potential in the design of interactive wearables technology, children’s toys, and furniture.
A team of researchers have developed a lightweight shield that can stop bullets in their tracks. The barrier was created by engineers at Brigham Young University (BYU), a private research university Utah


Artists may debate over measuring against realistic details or restraining to the minimum in origami, but concur that the ‘process of making’ is the point of it. It’s all about changing the memory of a flat sheet of paper. Origami has proved that with math involved, problems solved for aesthetic value only, turn around and turn out to have an application in the real world.

Origami as an art may have transformed, reimagined, elevated, but is still reminiscent of the ancient art form. “As a field of exploration it (origami) would have been played out long ago. But the opposite is true”, Robert Lang.

Interesting videos and links in ORIGAMI: 

(All pictures have been either credited to the source / photographer or linked to the original site from which they were taken)
Featured Image: Andrey Larin;