Miniature origami cranes (and design)

What making miniature origami cranes can teach you about design

In another life (completely unrelated to design) I teach origami for meditation, but that’s a completely different story I am saving for another time.

However, through teaching this rather specialized and mystical technique of meditation I have unlocked some ancient wisdom that seems to apply quite well to the design dilemmas of modern organisations.

Insight 1: Focus on the problem

People ask me why I don’t fold miniature origami unicorns (too hard for a male who doesn't keep up with manicure fashion) or miniature paper aeroplanes (too easy to get distracted by temptations to throw it as far as I can). But it really boils down to the actual problem that I want to solve — find inner peace and calm, a chance for introspection and self-improvement. An origami paper crane encapsulates the optimal amount of effort I need to expend in order to achieve the beneficial outcome required. As far as therapeutic outcomes go, it is definitely the leanest because all you need is paper between 50-100gsm.

Really try to focus on the problem… or you might lose the solution!

Insight 2: Be prepared for change

People also ask why I only fold the classic origami crane (such as the model featured in Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes) and not one of the other fifty or more types of origami cranes. Firstly, it is a lot of hard work to learn the folds for all those different types of models, and secondly, most students will come into the class with paper of different shapes and sizes. In my experience as an origami for meditation instructor, the best way to cope with change is to create or establish some elements of consistency, hence I focus on the classic origami crane form because it will give me the best chance of hitting the 1000 unit mark (and make a wish in the same process).

Different colour, different material… but still the same look & feel.

Insight 3: It’s all about the experience

Lastly, the most important question of all… why do you do it? And the answer might be surprisingly simple. Not because I can, or because I want to, and not even because there might be a dollar or two to be made from the career. I don’t even do it because I think it might help people improve their lives (there is a clear disclaimer in case you are wondering). For me, meditation through the folding of miniature origami cranes helps me experience what meditation is like (and it is cheaper than meditation classes).

Why does it suddenly look more beautiful when you take a picture of it on someone’s fingertip?

How will you find your inner peace in the hectic pace of working in a design related industry?