Why Origami Principles Function So Well In Modern Urban Design

Why Origami Principles Function So Well In Modern Urban Design

We take a look at two stand out examples of how the traditional art of paper folding is shaping todays public and private environments.

Plus Aziz
  • 28 february 2014

Origami is a design practice that extends deep into Japan’s history and has made impact on design and brand communities around the world. Japan’s traditional paper-folding ritual has paved the way for creative activities of varied scale, ranging from product packaging and jewelry to furniture and architecture, with many of the larger scale applications requiring increased mathematical comprehension. Two of these relatively larger applications of origami-inspired concepts: one architectural and the other centered around the enrichment of a brand help to demonstrate how this age-old practice is changing our design thinking.

British architecture firm Make has designed portable, pre-fab recycled aluminum kiosks in London’s Canary Wharf that can open and close like a paper fan. The lightweight structures house a range of activities including dining, DJing, and information kiosks for attendees of the Canary Wharf Ice Sculpturing Festival. The surface was covered in a waterproof layer and insulation was provided to manipulate how heat was absorbed by the structure.

Watch the video below to see the Kiosk come to life from design brief to finished product.

BoConcept nendo Fusion chair rug accessories

In a more brand-centric example, BoConcept, the Danish urban lifestyle brand, formed a unique collaboration with Japanese designer Oki Sato, founder of design company nendo. Similar to Make architects, the fusion collection leveraged origami as an inspiration base to develop a furniture and accessories collection. From that platform, the designers’ own sense of craft and sense of urbanism were merged to create highly sophisticated cultural artifacts. The fusion collection will be sold at BoConcept starting April later this year.

The visual impact and aesthetic value of origami becomes more acute as the viewer studies the furniture pieces. The fusing of BoConcept’s roots in Danish design’s functionality and nendo’s Japanese ethos produces surprising parallels that were a revelation even to the designer himself. To probe deeper into the thinking behind this collaboration, watch the BoConcept’s video below as it calls out the surprising historical parallels and values that characterize both Japanese and Danish design.

Origami inspired design sticks to a fundamental goal: the creation of three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional sheets (whether that’s in the way folds of a chair come to support the subject’s arms or in the richness of a rug’s surface). Both Make and BoConcept have taken this classic principle and successfully developed it into contemporary urban design.

Make Architects // BoConcept

Sources: Inhabitat, Entech Environmental Technology, Dezeen, Design Milk



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