Paper folding

I am fascinated by the folding design of pop-up books. I recently bought a pop-up card on a market and out of interested I asked the maker how they do these cards. He said: “I use Photoshop to create the designs and then laser-cut them”. I wondered though if there really was no analogue design process involved at all?

On social media, the video of the NY-based pop-up book artist Matthew Reinhart recently made the rounds and you could clearly see the dialogue between analogue and digital working. In fact, his work was much more on the analogue side of the spectrum. You need to experiment with the right fold-types and the order of unfolding when opening a book as the unfolding happens in stages depending on how far the page is opened up. The video is cleverly named: Engineering the perfect pop.


The pop-up designs surprise and delight and make you want to use it again and again. I wonder if the principles of pop-up designs could be used in other contexts, like interior design, architecture, product or fashion. Come to think of that, the transformation dress by Hussein Chalayan goes in this direction. A collection of his work and other transformation dresses are captured in this collection on Pinterest. Origami fashion is another branch that builds on paper folding techniques.

You can build incredibly strong but also flexible structures using folding. I love the tutorials Paul Jackson offers to promote his book Folding techniques for designers. In the video below, he demonstrates how folds made in a crumpled-up paper add strengths to a very flexible design.



I think we should promote paper folding much more in our design courses. Prototyping skills could be improved immensely if we all knew how to fold!

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