Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

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Minimalist Abstract Origami
 
         
 
Introduction
 
Minimalist abstract origami is a form of either geometric sculpture or abstract representational origami in which the designer aims to create an abstract form in the smallest possible number of folds ... or, at least, a very small number. Such designs may be made using either single sheets, multiple sheets or using modules.

In thinking about minimalist origami of all kinds it is useful to distinguish between active and passive folds, active folds being those which are used in the final design and passive folds being those which are not. I only count the active folds when considering the number of folds that a design requires.

Single Sheet Minimalist Abstract Origami

Although there is no hard and fast rule it seems reasonable to apply the same criteria to an abstract design as would apply to a representational design and to consider it minimalist if the final design is made by using five active folds or fewer.

Paul Jackson is famous for, among other things, inventing a form of minimalist abstract origami which he calls One Crease Origami.

Multiple Sheet Minimalist Abstract Origami

In the case of multiple sheet designs it seems sensible to think of each part of the overall design as a separate minimalist element. I would regard a multiple sheet design as minimalist if each of the elements was made using the smallest possible number of active folds ... or, at least, a very small number ... irrespective of the total number of folds in the design as a whole.

Modular Minimalist Origami

In the case of modular designs, since the modules for many classic designs, such as Paul Jackson's Cube and Robert Neale's Octahedron, which are not considered minimalist, are created using just four active folds, the maximum number of active folds available to create a module for a minimalist design is just three.

A minimalist modular design is, of course, still modular and therefore, by definition, required to be self-integrating (see the Definitions and Notes page) and reasonably stable in its assembled form.

Meeting such tight criteria means that it is likely compromises will have to be made elsewhere in the design. This may mean, for instance, that the design may be best made from card, rather than paper, as, for instance, in the case of the traditional 6-Card Cube, or that the number of modules a design requires might need to be to be increased beyond what might otherwise be acceptable, as in the case of my own 2-Fold Cube, or that the paper shape might need to be, for instance, triangular, as in the case of my 2-Fold Star.

To some extent stability may also need to be sacrificed. The classic example of this is Kenneth Kawamura's Butterfly Ball, the module for which is made with just three structural folds, although in this case the instability of the design is cleverly exploited as a feature.

 
Specimen Designs
 
Most of the designs included here are my own. Details of other relevant designs by other designers will be added as time allows.
 
Single Sheet Minimalist Abstract Designs
 
To be added later.
 
Multiple Sheet Minimalist Abstract Designs
 
  Name: The 1-Fold Cube - a design that can be loosely constructed on a flat surface but is not sufficiently stable to be picked up. Although modular in intention It is therefore more correctly seen as a multiple-piece rather than a modular design.

Modules / Paper shape / Folding geometry: 12 minimalist modules from squares using standard folding geometry.

Designer / Date: Kenneth Kawamura, 1977.

Diagrams: Diagrams were published in Kenneth Kawamura's booklet 'Meditations on a Waterbomb' in 1977.

 
Modular Minimalist Abstract Designs
 
1- Fold Designs
 
  Name: 1-fold Coaster - probably the simplest possible modular origami design.

Modules / Paper shape / Folding geometry: 4 modules from silver triangles using standard folding geometry.

Designer / Date: David Mitchell, 2002.

Diagrams: On-line diagrams are available on the Modular Designs page of this site under the title Coasters Supreme.

 
2- Fold Designs
 
  Name: The Two-Fold Cube - a minimalist modular design.

Modules / Paper shape / Folding geometry: 24 modules from squares using standard folding geometry.

Designer / Date: David Mitchell, 1995.

Diagrams: On-line diagrams are available on the Modular Designs page of this site.

 
  Name: 2-Fold Star

Modules / Paper shape / Folding geometry: 8 modules from silver triangles using standard folding geometry.

Designer / Date: David Mitchell, 2003.

Diagrams: On-line diagrams are available on the Modular Designs page of this site.

 
  Name: Rotor Coaster - a 2 fold design..

Modules / Paper shape / Folding geometry: 4 modules from silver triangles using standard folding geometry.

Designer / Date: David Mitchell, 2002.

Diagrams: On-line diagrams are available on the Modular Designs page of this site under the title Coasters Supreme.

 
3- Fold Designs
 
  Name: The Butterfly Ball

Modules / Paper shape / Folding geometry: 12 very simple modules from squares using standard folding geometry.

Designer / Date: Kenneth Kawamura, early to mid 1970s.

Diagrams: Diagrams were published in Kenneth Kawamura's booklet 'Meditations on a Waterbomb' in 1977.

 
  Name: Spiral Coaster - a 3-fold design.

Modules / Paper shape / Folding geometry: 4 modules from silver triangles using standard folding geometry.

Designer / Date: David Mitchell, 2002.

Diagrams: On-line diagrams are available on the Modular Designs page of this site under the title Coasters Supreme.