Concrete Origami

The prompt for this project was to produce 3 objects of meaning that have enough intrinsic value for me to:

  1. Keep
  2. Give Away
  3. Sell

The objects that I created had to sufficiently satisfy these needs of these scenarios.

In this project, I created 3 reproducible sets of objects. I explored how I could craft and foster objects that would remain compelling and endure. Rather than beginning with questions of function, I challenged myself to begin with questions of materiality. As a designer, it was initially difficult to detach from a lens of utility and function.

I began this project by delving through some of my favorite past projects and looking at what qualities were most compelling to me to work with and continue experiencing up until the present. In the past, I’ve enjoyed working with materials like clay and I wanted to explore possibilities that had similar qualities of permanence.

I delved into concrete pouring and was immediately drawn to its material qualities and subjectiveness. I began pouring some basic shapes and structures and looking at how the concrete cured and took on forms. I experimented with mixing ink in, layering the concrete, and even breaking the concrete after it cured.

I began contemplating this question as I continued pouring things in concrete. The question rose as I continued to experiment and consider what form my concrete object could take. I then made objects that normally weren’t made of concrete, such as this plastic and paper coffee cup and this banana. I decided to pursue this mismatch of expectations with the objects form and its materiality, such as its weight.

I enjoyed the unexpected experience of the concrete coffee cup. I decided to push this idea further by creating paper forms that one would expect to be light and delicate but would be cast in the heavy permanence of concrete. Origami became my focus.

Once I narrowed on the origami form I wanted, I began developing a method to pour this concrete to the proper fidelity, craft, and sharpness that it had in paper. I scored milk carton material to fold an empty mold. After gluing together two halves, I had a one time use mold. I tried several methods for pouring the concrete to fill the entire mold.

Something that the concrete origami struggled with was its place. Many people immediately picked it up and began questioning this “spin top” or “paper weight.” I decided to place the concrete on a slab of wood to help establish its purpose as a sculptural piece. After iterating on what this platform could look like, I used a long slim slab of dark walnut with round corners, pairing nicely with the contrasting sharpness of the origami.