Humans of FoldHaus is a series celebrating the many, many amazing volunteers (like Joerg) who work tirelessly on their evenings and weekends to bring to life the FoldHaus Collective Art. Below is Joerg’s story.
But first, a brief note:
The FoldHaus team, the art collective behind Burning Man (and Smithsonian!) favorites #ShrumenLumen and #BlumenLumen, are building our most radical installation ever, and we need your help.
A project of this scale is only possible with the support of a large community. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support RadiaLumia.
Community is a big part of FoldHaus. What’s your experience been?
“Until Blumen Lumen, I thought people helped build the art because they wanted to camp with us at Burning Man and needed to contribute. But with the Blumens, so many people offered to help, and half of them didn’t even want to go to Burning Man. They wanted to be part of something bigger, and they enjoyed building and making.
It’s a nice way to hang out. You get to meet new people, and at the end of the day you get to see what you made.
When we built the Shrumen Lumens, we needed new expertise. For instance, we needed help on the software and lighting side, and Kalan just appeared. He was a missing piece and he just showed up.
My favorite part about all of this is that so many people get something out of it. Some people learned to build, others went on to become artists. Bomani went from being a web designer to designing software for us. He’s now given a talk at his university and had an article published. A bunch of the guys had the flowers on their dating profiles even!”
What’s been one of the happiest moments of FoldHaus?
“When we installed the Blumen Lumen, it took longer than we expected and we worked 16-hour shifts. They still weren’t working and it was all down to the electronics. Jimmy and Remy spent another night working on that. Then, there was a massive rain shower.
We didn’t know if the Blumens would survive.
We biked over as the sun was setting, and saw the flowers on the horizon. They were off, closed, and kind of sad. But then, they started illuminating, one after the other. And then they moved. It was just a few of us there, and a couple of strangers. We hadn’t known if they were still working, and we had never seen them lit up before.
I still don’t understand why they opened up. But that’s when all the pain you go through is worth it. It was exactly what I had envisioned. Better even.”
How did you start FoldHaus?
“The only reason I went to Burning Man was that my best friend wanted to visit from Germany. He’s afraid of flying, so it was a big deal for him to come. He had two conditions: one was he’d stay for at least a month. Second: we had to go to Burning Man.
I have to admit, I wasn’t originally drawn to Burning Man. But, when I started looking into it, I realized that’s where they build all the crazy things: temporary structures and geodesic domes. I have a huge passion for these type of lightweight structures.
It was when I was talking with Jesse about it that I got excited, because he told me that the most important thing you need in the desert is shade. In design school, I had been working on shelters, so this seemed like a chance to design for a super harsh environment.
We created that first shelter using folding origami, and it all grew from there.”
Do you consider yourself an artist?
“I think I do consider myself an artist, now. But not a pure one. I’m an artist/designer/engineer. It’s applying what I’ve learned in engineering and design to create art.”
What’s your contribution to FoldHaus?
“I am the lead artist. I create the vision. The way I create is all based on origami, and I have enough structural understanding to know that it can be made. As the build gets going, I work closely with the mechanical engineering team, and on a higher level with the other teams. I guess I’m the co-project lead. We’re not organized like normal teams. There’s no hierarchy.”
By day, when you’re not part of FoldHaus, who are you?
“I’m a Design Director at IDEO.”
Thank you for reading!
If you’re curious to learn more about how we make our art happen, read about how we make the impossible possible on the IDEO blog. And, to hear more about what we’re up to, follow us on @foldhauscollective on Instagram.