• Padmja Sopori

Bringing Life to Paper

Paper was first invented in China around 105 A.D., and was brought to Japan by monks in the sixth century. Handmade paper was a luxury item only available to a few, and paper folding in ancient Japan was strictly for ceremonial purposes, often religious in nature. By the Edo period, paper folding in Japan had become recreational as well as ceremonial, often featuring multiple cuts and folds. It came to be regarded as a new form of art that was enabled by the advent of paper both mass-produced and more affordable. Written instructions for paper folding first appeared in 1797, with Akisato Rito’s Sembazuru Orikata, or “thousand crane folding.” In 1845, Adachi Kazuyuki published a more comprehensive compilation of paper folding with Kayaragusa; by the late 1800s, the term for paper folding had morphed from orikata (“folded shapes”) to origami.

But paper folding has travelled a long way from from Japan, and origami is now a popular recreational activity for several people around the world. Hobbyist World had the opportunity to talk to Origami master Aravindan Arumugam about origami and how it changed his life.

How and when did you get started?

I started folding Origami models in 1978 when I was 7 years old.

My Dad and my Brother had got origami books Robert Harbin & Kunhiko Kasahara and I was hooked onto it.

In my 4th or 5th grade I was also nicknamed 'Sanbow' after an Origami model.

I started Unfolding and learning more about origami when I restarted in 2012, It helped me recover from my median nerve entrapment in my right hand and opened up my mind. I then started a company Unfold & Rewire where I use origami as a metaphor for corporate training programs on change management, innovation and work-life balance.

What is your favourite thing about origami?

Origami is extremely diverse and it's hard to pick a favourite. You can’t ignore the grace of Akira Yoshizawa, the scientific breakdown of Robert Lang & Erik Demaine. The complexity of Eric Joisel, Satoshi Kamiya, Hojyo Takashi, Brian Chan. Wet folding of Hoang Tien Quyet, Fun folding of Jeremy Shafer and Tomoko Fuse to name a few and the huge applications in various fields.

What's the most complicated thing you have made?

For me, the most challenging origami task changes over time and it's always the next task which is complicated. I had to fold a towel which had to look like a crumpled cloth and an old man for a commercial. I found some insects of Fumiaki Kawahata challenging. I had to do a set design for a projection mapping project which was Origami-inspired fractal triangles. I had folded 1000 origami crane installation in 5 days for an installation event. Design an origami water bottle made out of waterproof paper. Creating the Unfolding philosophy and its IP has been a challenging task.

What's your favourite thing that you have made?

I can't remember a single favourite thing. It's like painting, you tend to forget once it's done. The favourite thing is the process of folding and unfolding.

Do you use any tools?

There are no tools needed for origami. I do sometimes use tweezers, an architect’s Magnifying glass, for Origami Jewelry or miniature origami.

Are there any challenges you face, in terms of materials?

Finding the right paper for the right project is always a challenge and is also one of the fun elements.

Does one require any special training to do origami?

No, One doesn’t require any special training for Origami. Although while doing rigid body origami, where origami principles can be applied to materials that don’t fold, training in fabrication and designing does help.

Can you tell us something that people may not know about origami?

Most people think of Origami as a craft. Origami is a science and extends to numerous fields from the unfolding solar panel of a satellite, the airbag in the car, refuge tents, protein folding in the pharma industries. I am particularly keen on the philosophy of Unfolding one's mindset blocks through Origami.

What's one piece of advice you'd give someone who wants to start doing origami?

Keep Folding and Unfolding