Despite its ubiquitous association with Japan, the history of origami is shrouded in mystery. Some say the paper folding techniques were imported from ancient China, while others insist they were invented in Japan. Whatever its heritage, by the end of the Edo period (1603-1868), Japanese origami had become a popular pastime of the masses and has since spread throughout the world.
This month, “On: Design” takes a look at a few contemporary products inspired by the aesthetics and compatibility of age-old paper folding crafts.
The WhO brand of construction and interior company Nohara Holdings Inc. has been pushing the boundaries of wallpaper design since 2015, with its particularly bold use of color and oversized patterns. A 2016 Winner of the Good Design AwardWHO has since launched various lines, including one dubbed Creators, which showcases the unusual and vibrant ideas of artists, illustrators, photographers, graphic and fashion designers, and even musicians.
Creators’ latest collaborator is Eisuke Tachikawa from Our signatory, the social design activist team renowned for its book “Tokyo Bosai” (Disaster Prevention), The Second Aid Newer PandAid COVID-19 Disaster Preparedness Kit and Information Portal. For WHO, Tachikawa examined the characteristics of plain paper to create a meta-range of white wallpaper, essentially printed to look like strips of textured paper.
There are eight drawings, all trompe-l’oeil prints of paper manipulations, ranging from crumpled and hand-torn leaves to masses of tiny shreds and perforated circles. Three show origami-type folding techniques. There is a zigzag pattern, where the dark shadows of the folds become bold diagonals; a streak where the bent “peaks” create soft gray shadow lines; and one of the random triangular folds that form a geometric mountainous landscape.
Each was the result of experiments with sheets of paper that Tachikawa folded, torn and cut himself, landing on white as the best way to showcase the detail and beauty of their manipulations.
All Nosigner wallpapers are carefully designed to produce seamless patterns on the walls. They are priced at 4,950 yen per meter of width of 90 centimeters or 5,500 yen per square meter, and can be ordered directly from the WHO online store.
The result of a collaboration between Teneo, a Franco-Japanese fashion brand, and the media production company Nouvelle Vague, the Origami Pet House is made of three sheets of corrugated cardboard folded into architectural designs.
Paper Pet Houses
Teneo’s high-end functional clothing has a minimalist touch and a strong emphasis on contemporary design combined with traditional craftsmanship from Japan and France. A collaboration with a media company to produce a pet house feels very abandoned – until you see the design. All white, architecturally clean and slightly futuristic in shape, the Origami Pet Houses are like sculptural works of art for the home.
They were designed with the help of June Mitani, a professor from the University of Tsukuba with perhaps the best origami references in Japan. Specialist in digital geometric modeling, Mitani is the developer of innovative software who can set up intricate 3D origami models, published two fancy folded paper artwork books and collaborated with Issey Miyake for her 132 5. brand of origami-inspired clothing.
The Origami Pet House comes in two forms: a bell with an arched entrance and a wall of folded flaps that twist and fit into each other at the top for a closed roof, and a dome with a circular entrance and pilaster-shaped protrusions that form a hole the size of a pet’s head at the top. Both are made from just three sheets of pre-cut and grooved corrugated cardboard that users simply fold into shape and nest together.
There is currently a Makuake crowdfunding campaign running through September 29, with an official release of the product. planned for december. Both models are available at early bird prices of 4,500 for the bell and 3,600 for the dome.
Unmasking the design
Last November, Paper parade inc., led by designer Yuriko Wada and creative director Atsushi Morita, has collaborated with several washi (Japanese paper) to produce Origami Mask, a mask that folds perfectly into a compact and flat elongated hexagon. Designed to be worn on special occasions over ordinary surgical masks during the pandemic, it unfolds into a decorative 3D dome, its geometric lines outlined with gold leaf.
Design won Paper Parade an international award Silver A’Design Award in February and is now made with Air Clean Paper from Heiwa Paper, a titanium dioxide encrusted textile that has antiviral, antibacterial and air purifying properties when exposed to the sun.
To use the Origami mask, simply separate the edges of the hexagon where the ear elastic is attached so that it fans out, much like a pop-up book. 3D pleats keep the mask roomy around the nose and prevent the mouth from touching the paper. To close it, push the edges together and it falls back into its flat shape.
Absolutely eye-catching, the Origami mask makes the everyday face covering a fashion statement. Priced at 1,320, it is available in two sizes and three decorative styles and is available in the Paper Parade online store.
In a time of both disinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing you can help us tell the story well.