Google Doodle celebrates grandmaster of origami Akira Yoshizawa

14 Mar 2012

Today's Google Doodle dedicated to grandmaster of origami Akira Yoshizawa, designed by Robert J Lang

Google’s latest Doodle celebrates the life of Akira Yoshizawa, the grandmaster of origami. The Doodle was created with the help of artist Robert J Lang, one of the world’s masters of origami and who lectures on the connection between origami, science, math and technology.

In designing the Doodle – a stylised Google logo – Google stipulated to Lang that the Google logo be folded with origami and then decorated with examples of Yoshizawa’s designs.

“To design these (or any letterform in this style), one can take a narrow strip of paper, fold it back and forth to trace the outline of the desired letter, unfold it, mark the creases, then arrange multiple copies of the strip pattern on a larger rectangle,” Lang explained.

“The resulting crease pattern is moderately complex, and it gives a lovely 3-D form when folded, but conceptually, it is quite straightforward,” he added.

Yoshizawa in his lifetime took a craft and turned it into a living art and created some 50,000-plus models. Born in 1911, he left a factory job to focus full time on the art form.

Living in extreme poverty for the next 20 years, he pioneered many techniques, including wet-folding, which is considered to be a paradigm shift that allowed origami to shift from craft to art form.

Throughout his career, Yoshizawa acted as an international cultural ambassador for Japan and his works feature in the Louvre museum in Paris. Yoshizawa died in March 2005.

“While there were other Japanese artists who explored their country’s folk art contemporaneously with Yoshizawa, his work inspired the world through a combination of grace, beauty, variety and clarity of presentation,” Lang wrote in the official Google blog.

“To him, each figure, even if folded from the same basic plan, was a unique object with a unique character.” Lang said.


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years