Origami Tessellations

In continuation of the post I wrote yesterday, I will briefly describe through images an interesting exploration on origami tessellations that I did while at CITA.

Departing from the shibori experiments with fabric, I tested origami tessellations to develop folding techniques that could be used to generate patterns for laser cutting textiles. The project was in part inspired by the beautiful Le Klint lamps, shown below. Le Klint lamps are folded from single sheets into complex 3D geometries based on principles of origami tessellations. Although, I have mainly been working with the 2D geometry of the folding pattern, the potential to add structure and create form through folds is enticing. For the tests shown below, I’m indebted to Eric Gjerde’s diagrams of origami tessellations. Another book that I can recommend on tessellations is Solid Origami by Shuzo Fujimoto. Lastly, if you are interested in the mathematics of origami tessellations, In the fold: Origami Meets Mathematics, is a helpful introductory article and the blog Space Symmetry Structure is excellent. Also, of interest might be Tomohiro Tachi’s Rigid Origami Simulator.


CITA Semester

As many of you know, last semester I have been doing an internship at CITA. Over the next couple of days I would like to share with you, through images and brief texts, some of the projects that I’ve been working, as well as some of the more personal explorations it has inspired, and lastly the direction that my curent thoughts are taking as a result. I hope that the following will interest some of you.

The week that I arrived at CITA, they were in the midst of setting up a structure at the Danish Design Museum for the Copenhagen Design week. Therefore, for a week and a half I was engaged building a 1:1 prototype that was the result of two years of research. The structure was composed of hundreds of unique wood beams connected by simple wedge joints. The design took inspiration from the the Russian engineer Vladimir Shukhov, who built tall free–standing towers using steel lattice structures. His towers were built from short, straight steel members, connected to form hyperboloids. Similarly, Dermoid questioned how short wooden beams can create large–spanning structures when woven together in a lattice structure. In today’s world, this question becomes increasingly relevant as material economization, environmental concerns, and transportation costs encourage us to develop new structures based on smaller but customizable pieces. During the initial tests, the fabric was folded following the logic of origami tessellations.

The next project that I begun working on was of a completely different nature. It started with experiments in shibori, the technique of folding and binding fabric before dyeing. The process begins by folding the fabric into a flat shape. The goal is to keep as many of the folded edges on the outside, like an accordion, so that they receive the dye evenly. Blocks are then placed on either side packet of fabric, tied together, and the fabric is submerged in dye. The edges become coloured and the blocks and pressure protect the inner fabric. The tighter the blocks are bound, the crisper the lines. Loosely held blocks allow the dye to seep into the bundle of fabric, creating a bleed. The pattern results from the combination of precise folding, shape of the blocks, and degree of pressure exerted. Depending on the techniques, the forms can range from crisp, geometric lines, soft bleeds, or mysterious Rorschach-esque forms.

The Curate Series: Benjamin Lucraft # 3 – ‘Bookshelf’

During a crap time working in an uninspiring office for longer than I want to remember – I spent my lunch hour reading anything which kept me enthusiastic and challenged. In retrospect it was probably a good way of spending a couple of years and I have tried to continue the habit.

To follow on from yesterday’s post about image based references, today I want to post about the books which I have found to a be a great influence on my work or way of understanding things. I also thought that as we have all come from different backgrounds and schools from around the world it would be interesting to share and compare what we were encouraged to read in our undergraduate years, therefore I have divided the post into to three: Books Past, Recent, and Present.

I have added a short description for each title which hopefully sums up why they have had an impact on me. Again, I apologise for the self indulgent nature that these blogs are taking but I hope others will share their influences in the comments or in future posts. Cheers!


The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs  – Saved New York in the 1960s by pointing out what made it special : the people in the communities of the many neighbourhoods – not a road.

The Poetics of Space (La Poétique de l’Espace) by Gaston Bachelard – enlivened my imagination

Thinking Architecture, Peter Zumthor  – was a bit of a bible for a year or so.

The Eyes of the Skin by Juhani Pallasmaa – opened a whole world of possibilities to design beyond the visual.

A pattern language, Christopher Alexander  – defined my idea of the vernacular

In Praise of Shadows (陰翳礼讃 , In’ei Raisan) Jun’ichirō Tanizaki.  – short essays on aesthetics written at a time when Japan was indulging in the electric light bulb.

Houses,  SANAA – the elevation of other qualities in spaces was a sight for my  sore Northern European eyes.

Architecture as City: Saemangeum Island CityFlorian Beigelselecting, documenting and arranging a range of city structures and typologies to form the new South Korean city.

Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies by Reyner Banham  – Refreshing: He learnt to drive just to visit Los Angeles, and his enthusiasm for the place, embracing its ugly features as a unique situation in cites during the 1970s.

Being and Time, Martin Heidegger – despite his politics, ideas of place and being are powerful ideas

The Unilever SeriesRachel Whiteread – taught me to think in the negative

Life Between Buildings, Jan Gehl  – I think about this book most days here

The Feeling of Things: Adam Caruso – concerned with the cultural, tectonic, historical and social political.

Walid Raad by Alan Gilbert – part of the Atlas Group – a lesson in documenting a form of reality

Following four all contribute to my understanding of the use, application and connotations of materials.

GiacomettiUlf Küster

Anselm Kiefer  – Monograph

What Is ArtConversations with Joseph Beuys Joseph Beuys


The Road That is Not a Road and the Open City,RitoqueChile af Ann M.Pendleton- Jullian. – beautiful


Delirious New York, Rem Koolhaas – to quote: ‘the city [Manhattan] is a catalogue of models and precedents: all the desirable elements that exist scattered through the Old World finally assembled in a single place.’ 

Fed on splendour and miseries of the metropolitan condition – hyperdensity, without losing faith in it as the basis for a desirable modern culture.’

 Sverre Fehn: The Pattern of Thoughts – incredibly graceful and composed in connecting materials and forms to a narrative.

Converstaion Series, Enzo Mari/Hans Ulrich Obrist  – see #1 post this week for more Mari. 

Models & Constructs, Norman Potter – lessons in practice and making.

Learning from China: The Tao the City, Carl Fingerhuth – applying gestalt to our cities.

Streets for People: A Primer for Americans, Bernard Rudofsky – Amazing photos and a relevant argument even forty years later.


Encounters. Architectural Essays. Juhani Pallasmaa – I keep pushing back the return date to the library – full of gems.

The Enclosed Garden by Rob Aben – arguing to reintroduce places for piece back into our cities.

Architecture as a Craft, Michiel Riedijk  – great drawings and models and interesting chat about a range of ways to ‘make’ architecture.

The Curate Series: Benjamin Lucraft # 2 – ‘References’

Yesterday’s post was about maker’s who are explicit in their influence. However there are far more which are much subtler. What follows is a small sample of a collection of images which are part of the points of reference I draw upon when I design or think about what great architecture is or could be. Although in no particular order and with no annotation, they make up part of what influences me. Of course it is a very small sample, being a visual media, but I think its interesting that everyone has their own sources of references, or personal archive, derived from their upbringing, cultural, political, geographical and chronological amongst others.

The Curate Series: Benjamin Lucraft # 1 – ‘Makers’

So when I was thinking of what to share I decided to use this opportunity to be a little self-indulgent and to talk about quite personal views and ideas, interests and inputs – so please forgive me. However, I hope it is not too boring and perhaps the themes could be continued in the future.

After Friday’s meeting I’ve decided to continue the theme of makers by posting a little bit about three makers who inspire me.

Bernard Leach


Leach (1887 – 1979) was a British studio potter who settled in St Ives (down the coast where I grew up) in England after potting under the direction of Shigekichi Urano in Japan for ten years. I seem to return to his pots as a reference for control and mastery of materiality, as well as colour and form.

Leach promoted pottery as a combination of Western and Eastern arts and philosophies. In his work he focused on traditional Korean, Japanese and Chinese pottery, in combination with traditional techniques from England and Germany, such as slipware and salt glaze ware. He saw pottery as a combination of art, philosophy, design and craft – even as a greater lifestyle.

Leach advocated simple and utilitarian forms. His ethical pots stand in opposition to what he called fine art pots, which promoted aesthetic concerns rather than function. I love the idea of an object representing these thoughts, a vessel which holds multiple rich ideas (pun intended). Below is a short extract of Leach throwing a pot – he uses a speed-eye technique, his eyes are scanning the fast movements of the clay to see if there is one line out of place.

Great soundtrack and narrative over the top, also notice how clean his hands are!

Michael Marriott

Michael Marriott is a designer who’s brilliantly functional work leans toward the enormous potential of a ready made – their uses, misuses, function and disfunction as originals and within his own designs. Covering furniture, product and curatorial design, his practice is also about the conversations that surround his discipline, and so he has written, exhibited and of course, taught the idea of making as a mode for thought. When I came across his work it coincided with being interested in the idea of re-appropriation. I think Michael Marriott does this in a very thoughtful and subtle way which was a lesson for me in how I select references and reinterpret them as influences. He also makes great benches with steel fixings. I think this short film sums his approach and influences up quite well:


Enzo mari

One of the most thoughtful and intellectually provocative Italian designers of the late 20th century, I came across Mari when I wanted to make some simple furniture for a new room I had just moved into. His concept of autoprogettazione – whereby everyone can build their own furniture using his manual and your local timber merchant, was a great inspiration and a lot of fun. It predated Ikea and is part of his concept of design used to please the factory workers who make his products. One of his pet theories (a typically idiosyncratic conflation of the Communist Manifesto and Arts and Crafts Movement idealism) is that designers have a responsibility to liberate workers from the drudgery of what Mari calls their “alienated labour” by creating inspiring products for them to make in “transformative work.”

The AA also did a retrospective of autoprogettazione a couple of years ago, and designers like Mario Camper and Rainer Spehl continue to borrow heavily form it.

To Mari, design is all about creating forms, or shapes. “Form is everything” comes a close second to “design is dead” in his top two sayings, and he is exceptionally good at it. His designs, a chair, table, glass, vase, teapot or paper knife is stripped down to the simplest possible shape, yet perfectly proportioned and detailed. It’s a cheesy cliché to describe design as sculptural, but Mari’s is. It also seems so tactile, that you want to pick up each object and use it, rather than simply looking at it. Also check out his toys for children.

Happy International Women’s Day

Hey males, in honour of International Women’s Day take a minute, read these articles, and realize that you’re part of the problem and you’re not doing anything about it.



Oh, and check out this unbelievable dickhead:


But to end on a positive note: