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Fumiaki Kawahata's Pegasus. See additional pictures at the gallery

Origami is Japanese for "paper folding". Originally an ancient and traditional pastime, it achieved considerable progress in the last fifty years, both in techniques and in worldwide popularity. Several cultures dispute its origin, but today it is recognized both as a vibrant international art form and a powerful symbol of peace and cooperation.

Origami's appeal lies maybe in its simplicity. An inexpensive but delicate material, simple rules and a basic set of folding maneuvers: nothing more is required but precision and discipline.

Designing a "model" (folded piece of paper) is an art in itself. Even following a diagram (set of instructions) resembles a performance: it can be done mechanically, or "life" can be breathed onto the model, lending it part of the folder's personality.

There are several "styles" of origami. Many modern folders (myself included) regard folding from a single square sheet, with no cuts, a more refined expression of art. That is probably a recent restriction: Japanese creators from the 18th century didn't reject cutting (although modern design techniques allow the creation of much more spectacular uncut versions); also, many multisheet models are so beautiful, their elegance will probably never be matched by a single sheet version's.

I appreciate folding fairly complex, detailed models; nevertheless, simple models can be equally or more interesting. Origami is an art of minimalism, economy and elegance: painstakingly crafting a minute detail can be as challenging as suggesting the very same feature by its absence, or with a minimum of creases.


A few pictures of folded models.

Folded Worlds

I almost always use simple, plainly colored paper, since I believe folded shapes alone should be enough to suggest the design's subject. But computer cartography can be matched with origami to create paper "globes".

Modular Polypolyhedra in VRML

VRML is a language for describing virtual, interactive 3D environments. Here it illustrates the assembly of origami models comprising intersecting geometric shapes.


Roses are an interesting theme for origami design; some of the most famous were created by Toshikazu Kawasaki.


I have started a page of original diagrams here.


Details of books and magazines are mentioned here. A longer catalog with model lists is available at Gilad Aharoni's site.


Neither comprehensive nor deep, this is not an introduction to origami, but rather a small repository of items possibly interesting to folders. For further reading, see Joseph Wu's origami pages, a good collection of pictures, diagrams and links to Internet resources, including organizations, groups and stores. See also for several collections of links.

Books and paper can be purchased at OrigamiUSA and Kim's Crane.

HomeSite MapGallery    June 16, 2018
Copyright © 2003 Carlos A. Furuti