Origami Beyond Art I Oxford Open Learning


    Origami Beyond Art

    Origami is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding and is used to create beautiful, intricate two or three-dimensional designs. The word origami comes from the Japanese words ‘oru’ (to fold) and kami (paper) and usually doesn’t require the need for glue or cutting. This ancient art has had many applications throughout the centuries, from recreational to educational and has been used in more ground-breaking applications in recent times within the fields of medicine, engineering and product design.


    It is believed that paper was invented in China in 105AD. After its use grew and spread throughout Asia, it is thought that the roots of origami were first put down in 6th century Japan, although there is no exact evidence of its existence before 1600. Origami was actually first known as orikata (folded shapes) but it wasn’t until 1880 that the craft got the name we are familiar with. Origami was originally used by the Japanese for ornamental purposes at ceremonies. For example, paper butterflies were used to decorate sake bottles at a Shinto wedding.

    Folding Techniques

    Origami is a precise art, in which many different folding techniques are used, ranging from basic designs to complex creations. Various folds are made on a sheet of paper such as a mountain fold or valley fold, usually to form a base which can then be further modified to make many unique designs. Traditional models feature flowers, animals and geometric shapes that encapsulate cultural and symbolic meanings.

    Mindfulness And Meditation

    Origami has been used in the promotion of mindfulness. Due to its ease of accessibility and low cost, origami can be used to help users focus on the moment, helping to engage the senses and promote relaxation. The repetitive folding process and creative element can be used as a meditative relief within a fast paced world.

    Modern Day Applications

    The practice of origami has found many novel and practical uses in our modern-day age. NASA has used origami-inspired designs to create compact structures that can be deployed in space, such as satellites and solar panels. Within the field of medicine, origami-based biomedical devices are being created such as stents and tetherless microgrippers which can reach previously inaccessible places within the human body to perform internal procedures.

    It has also has influences in the fashion and textile industry and has had an innovative and sustainable impact. Here, the appearance of fabrics can be manipulated using folds and pleats to create unique and eye-catching structures. Origami has also influenced product and packaging designs, creating space saving and eco-friendly designs. The 3D folding of packing can help to create a natural protective casing for fragile contents while increasing the aesthetic appeal.

    The Future For Origami

    While Origami has traditionally been used in the creation of art and decoration, it’s clear that its uses have become more diverse and important in a wide range of areas, ranging from engineering to mental wellbeing. It can be seen as a timeless expression of human creativity and continues to inspire future generations. It is therefore clear that its applications will continue to grow in the areas of science, medicine, education, art, sustainability and mindfulness.


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