Folding Paper into Light: New Material, Form, and Making

By Jiangmei Wu.

Published by The International Journal of Designed Objects

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: November 23, 2015 $US5.00

In comparison to other fabrication techniques, folding or bending allows for complex and innovative structures formed with simple and low cost tools at the point of assembly. From flat sheet material, folded designs can be easily deployed into a three-dimensional volume and then can be collapsed back to a two-dimensional flat shape that is much smaller, for ease of shipping and storage. The goal of this paper is to systemically explore practical means of using mathematical and scientific origami in product design in order to seek innovative ways of form finding and making through the materiality of paper folding. Geometric tessellated patterns that can produce flat-foldable and rigid-foldable designs are focused, and variations of these crease patterns are explored to generate a variety of folded designs that can be used toward light sheds. A wide variety of durable conventional paper and technical paper materials that are appropriate for light sheds are compared and tested in terms of their material properties, functionalities and sustainability attributes. In order to investigate such issues, this paper focuses on a case study of a lighting brand, Folded Light Art. Currently technical production processes for cutting sheet materials, as well as traditional hand folding, are used to produce the scale paper models and 1:1 scale prototypes for the works of Folded Light Art. Luminary hardware is fabricated at local sheet metal shops. Potential CNC technologies of cutting, scoring and etching sheet materials are further explored. Though the current focus is on light sheds, this research can be applied to other folded designs that can potentially shift the paradigm in sustainable product design and development.

Keywords: Flat-foldability, Rigid-foldability, Mathematical Origami, Digital Cutting, Geometric Tessellation, Technical Paper, Folded Light Art

The International Journal of Designed Objects, Volume 9, Issue 4, December, 2015, pp.33-45. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: November 23, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.402MB)).

Jiangmei Wu

Assistant Professor, Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA