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The origami experiment

The origami-like design allows for the wall covering assuming multiple shapes.

Courtesy of Parsons the New School of Design

Three challenges. Fold, fill, or weave were the marching orders given to students at Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments. The students were armed with Xorel, a woven polyethylene fabric from Carnegie Fabrics that has the textured appearance and malleability of fabric but is as tough, stain resistant, and durable as a plastic. The company engaged the students to design soft structures made from the tech fabric for the firm’s booth at this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair.

Granger Moorhead asked the students to break out into teams focused on folding, filling, or weaving. The installation had to be experimental so that visitors to the booth could walk through, under, or beside the design. The folding and weaving teams quickly attracted students, while filling took on just two.

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The folding group walked away with a winning design based on an origami approach. They also used a paper-backed version of Xorel. Usually used for wall covering, the paper-back structure facilitated precise origami cuts to create pyramid-like shapes with extended tabs at the base of each plane. The tabs were then attached to each other, giving designers freedom to create larger compositions. When joined together, the forms evolved into cloudlike shapes, with several pyramids scaled up for variety. “It’s very poetic and a simple building block,” said the organizer.

With formal issues decided, the students went on to explore a new process created by Carnegie that allows for digital printing on the paper backing the fabric. Since the woven polyethylene surface is translucent, any printed pattern underneath shows through. To go even more baroque, the polyethylene surface itself can be textured with a jacquard pattern. The students chose to plainly mark the design onto the paper, as in a blueprint, actuating the fold marks through a translucent Jacquard.

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