Origamics in Future

Forecasting is not difficult for the person who can read the signs of the time, it is said.

Forecasting requires not only an open-minded interpretation of the present, but also seeing what is missing right now from all the abundance in the world. Indeed, in the short-term, commercialism operates under the principle that people exchange their old things for new ones, even though the old things are fine. With regard to the sensible progress of the world of things, a change would mean giving up static thinking of shapes entirely. It would mean adopting a new design concept based on a changing structure. That progress would require geometrically different digital programmes, which would be based more on the analysis of the changing of a live structure based on the principles of paper folding called origami.

This kind of leap in progress has previously taken place before the computer age in the 1920s Europe, when Albers and friends were developing the paper plastic teaching methods of Bauhaus.  It was always temporally tied to the place where design flourished at the time. In Japan and China as well, the knowledge of structures and the ability to use information is a tradition, seen also in the direct contact of designers to working artisans. In Catalonia’s Barcelona, I recommend visiting the Antonio Gaudi museum established underneath Sagrada Familia, which presents his infinite knowledge and ideas about structures. A limited concept of shapes and structures and the lack of education are the greatest obstacles to an advanced understanding of structures in design, for example in Finland. I am not aware of many designers, architects or engineers, who are interested in those things as a whole, even though the creative advantage against competitors would be disproportionate. The change in the geometry of programmes is already taking place now in computers, because it is possible and there is a need for it in different areas. Hopefully the best experts are now designing those tools that design is done with in the future.

In the 1970s, I found some basic origami folding models almost by myself. It took me an awfully long time to try to fold those structures in the best way, but I learned quickly because I was interested in the fact that it opened up a new understanding of the reality of the world. I thought about what kinds of applications based on origami could originate outside of packaging design and art. Architecture is one endless area of application. Furthermore, one obstacle has been the initial basic limitations of 3D drawing programmes. They do not know geometry based on origami, or you must know what you want. One of those models is a contracting and expanding origami flower that turns around itself geometrically through its centre point. Flowers like this with very different shapes can be built. It is a sculpture structure with no permanent static shape. The shape of an organism living in nature changes when it uses its musculature/springs and skeleton when moving. Thus, a structure that creates shapes is one of the most important things in the world.

I vaguely understood then at the end of the 1970s that paper design is a key to understanding the importance of structure. It leads to much bigger alternative paths and achievements essential to the development of society than only better packaging design. Paper is still by far the best material for presenting the functionality of a structural idea. Perhaps specifically because of the immateriality of paper, it provides an opportunity to test the flexibility and geometry of interrelated networks in practice. I still do not know a better way to do it.

All the same, times have changed and research has already progressed to serious applications.

The Origami Revolution video gives a good overview of all the good things the future can bring when it is observed from an entirely new viewpoint created by current needs. Origami Revolution In art, we can marvel at the spontaneous and magical applications of Theo Jansen as an example of a vividly moving structurality, because a movement and transformation is a characteristic of structurality.