Origami box for facemask

A prototype of an origami box for packaging the origami facemask.

As I worked on updating and improving my origami facemask, I have also been working on an origami box for packaging the facemask. The box is folded from one single sheet of 80# paper without any adhesive needed. Conceptually, the box presents an unfolding ceremony fo the facemask. Functionally, the box protects the mask during the shipping (the nose bridge aluminum piece shouldn’t be folded flat completely as it will cause the aluminum to break). In addition, it can be reused as a carrying case. See below for more discussions on carrying and storing facemasks.

Unfolding the facemask
The facemask is nicely displayed in the case
The closed origami case with a potential branding

There are a lot of discussions lately about how to properly put away a facemask when you don’t need to wear it. While there are different opinions regarding whether one should fold the facemask outside face in or inside face out when storing the mask, the common consensus is that the facemask needs to be stored in a separate container to avoid cross-contamination. While the paper origami case can be doubled as a storing case for the face mask, it is a bit fragile. Below I played with the idea of folding and putting away the origami facemask in a pouch made from Olyfun fabric. The more I work on this project, the more I realize that the facemask is not just a mask. It is very unfortunate that we might need to keep the facemask on for longer — COVID-19 cases continue to rise globally and now the west coast is under the immense threat of wildfire — we can at least think about how we can better live with the facemask.

Origami facemask in Oly-fun fabric

A colorful array of origami mask made with Oly-fun fabric

Since NYTimes’s Tara Parker interviewed me about my origami facemask design in early April, I have received many emails inquiring about the origami mask design from all around the world. Many people have sent me photos of the masks they made using various materials; however, the mask project was significantly slowed down as two of the manufacturers I had been working with forfeited the project in June — I won’t said it had nothing to do with the nonchalant rhetoric regarding mask wearing in the U.S. Recently, the origami facemasks gained some momentum again with various new interests. Here I will give an update on my latest design which will soon be going through alpha testing by a start-up company.

In my previous blog, I discussed the concept of an app that will allow people to upload pictures of their faces to get the right sizing for a custom-fit mask (I have developed eleven different sizes to fit various face widths and face lengths). This project is still under development. I have recently been working in Python and OpenCV to understand how to measure facial landmarks, and consulted a computer vision expert at Indiana University on the feasibility of the project. I hope to wrap up the development in October.

The new mask has many improved features. Aesthetically, the original stapler technique has been replaced by heat-sealing (the mask is still a no-sew mask to avoid tiny holes in the fabric as the result of sewing) and plastic snap buttons (the color of snap buttons match the many color choices of the Oly-fun fabric).

Deployed view (left) and folded view (right)

After wearing my own DIY masks this summer, I realized that there are two features I really need to improve: comfort and reusability. The original ear loop design, which causes discomfort behind the ears after wearing a mask for more than an hour, is now replaced with a single long loop that threads through the upper and lower borders of the mask and wraps around behind the neck. The single long elastic loop helps secure the mask tightly around the face.

Indiana University professor Ron Day testing the origami mask with the new looped strap design (U.S. patent pending)

For the reusability aspect, I want to be able to disinfect the origami mask at home just like a regular cotton mask. I have looked at many different kinds of materials other than cotton, finally arriving at Oly-fun fabric, a type of fabric made of non-woven polypropylene (PP), for the outer layer. Oly-fun fabric is similar to the fabric used in a typical surgical mask but a lot heavier and stiffer, with a weight of 65 GSM, making it suitable for the folding application. In addition, it is water repellent and breathable. For the inner layer, I use another type of PP that is thinner, smoother, and more comfortable when placed next to the skin. A disposable filter is inserted between the two PP fabrics and is made of melt-blown material that has more than 98 percent Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (I received a donation of the melt-blown material from Derek Yurgaitis of the Meltblown Technologies based in Georgia). The melt-blown filter material is very fragile and can’t be washed in any way, and the PP fabrics can’t be placed in the washer (hand-washing the PP fabrics with soap is OK). However, the PP can be disinfected in boiling water as the PP’s melting point is higher than 100 Celcius.

Details view of the interior of origami mask with two-ply meltblown filter inserted

Fold-A-Face Facemask: Custom-fit Origami Fashion of Pandemic

Illustration by Christine Wang

I have been working on prototypes for origami facemasks, or Fold-a-Face mask, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The early iterations of the design were published by IU Research and by various national and local news media include NY Times, Herald Times, Indianapolis Monthly, etc. Since then I have been working with multiple industry partners on improving the design. One of the ideas is to make the origami masks custom-fit to individual faces. Below I will show a few conceptual ideas related to custom-fit origami masks.

The Fold-A-Face mask is based on origami techniques. Choose the textures, colors, and folding styles that suit you best.  It is folded from a single sheet of material and it can be flat packed for easy carrying.

Illustration by Christine Wang

How does it work?

  1. Take a digital side view photo of your face using the Fold-A-Face app. (Out of privacy concerns, the Fold-A-Face app will create a photo showing only the silhouette of your facial profile, not the details of your face). 
  2. Upload the photos to Fold-A-Face through the Fold-A-Face app and it will come up with the custom pattern that best fits your face.
  3. Choose the colors and folding patterns that best reflect your style.
Schematic drawing showing the concept of Fold-A-Face app

Ford-A-Face masks are also available with three different folding choices to accentuate your facial structure. For each of the unique patterns, you can fold in three different ways to fold a face mask: Triangle, Square, and Diagonal. The Triangle fold gives your face a more cheerful appearance, the Square fold gives your face a more composed appearance, and the Diagonal Fold gives your face a more uplifting appearance. Fold-A-Face to suit your own style and mood!

Origami diagram
Schematic drawing showing various folding choices

Fold-A-Face masks are offered in a variety of hues, shades, and tints, as well. Choose anything, from jewel turquoise to Alice blue. Fold-A-Face uses three-layer materials to provide you protection again viruses and germs. The outer layer is an elastomeric nylon fabric that has a negative triboelectric effect and is hydrophobic, the middle layer is a filtration media that is consistent with the BFE95 material found in normal surgical masks, and the inner layer is material that is soft to your face and is hydrophilic.

Weaving Thick Miura surface

Weaving thick Miura surface

The doubly periodic Miura pattern was named after Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura, and is a well-known origami pattern for its rigid and flat foldabilities and its ability to deploy and retract in a restrictive way. Miura pattern is also known as rigid origami, which is concerned with folding structures using flat rigid sheet material with certain thicknesses, such as metal, wood, plastic, etc, that are joined by hinges. Rigid origami has also studied as Thick origami by Tomohiro Tachi. In this article, he proposed using a new method called Tapered Panels in addition to Hoberman’s symmetric Miura-ori vertex method and Trautz and Kunstler’s Slidable Hinges method. Recently, Tomohiro Tachi and Tom Hull presented Double-line rigid origami as an extension of the crease offset method of thick rigid origami.

Interestingly, Miura surface can also be understood as a generalized example of bi-foldable infinite polyhedral complexes, or zonohedra, that are bounded by parallelograms. Similar to the weaving of a cube or other zonohera that has been studied by artist Rinus Roelofs, a polyhedron weaving technique can be used to construct these polyhedral complexes. A Miura surface can therefore be woven by strips of paper (see a diagram below), or thick materials such as corrugated cardboard. More images below show the added thickness and the stylization to the woven Miura surface in 4 mm thick corrugated cardboard. It was interesting to learn that weaving Miura surface with thick and rigid panels is a lot easier than adding thickness to the Miura origami panels.

A diagram showing weaving of Miura surface using the concept of zonohedra proposed by H.S.M. Coxeter
(a), (b) & (c) weaving Miura surface using corrugated cardboard. (d) & (e) using plastic board.

Weaving Infinite Bi-foldable Polyhedral Complexes

I have been collaborating with mathematician Matthias Weber on a new class of infinite bi-foldable polyhedral complexes. Currently, our initial result has been published at: https://arxiv.org/abs/1809.01698. I would like to showcase two examples of triply infinite bi-foldable polyhedral complexes: Butterfly and Dos Equis. I made Butterfly and Dos Equis using a polyhedral weaving technique. The material is Mi Teintes paper. I’m also including two nice rendered videos made by Weber.

To learn more about the mathematics (explained in layman’s terms by Weber) behind these fun infinite bi-foldable polyhedral complexes, or the process of how we found them, I encourage you to visit Weber’s blogs here:

Weber’s blog on Butterfly
Weber’s blog on Dos Equis

An frontal view of Butterfly

Butterfly has three vertex types: valency 4, 6, and 8. Butterfly is named after the vertex of valency 8 as it resembles a symmetrically balanced butterfly. This vertex is translated to create the triply periodic construction. Butterfly is made using a polyhedral weaving technique that employs a four-color complementary scheme. Each color represents a distinctive zone using the concept of zonohedron proposed by H.S.M. Coxeter. Each face is alternated and interwoven by two zones of two colors. A few deviations from the regularity are inserted to create the rhythmic changes.

An isometric view of Butterfly

There are three vertex types in Dos Equis: two of valency 4 and one of valency 8. Dos Equis is named after the vertex of valency 8 as it resembles the image of an X. Using a four-color complementary scheme, each color represents a distinctive zone using the concept of zonohedron proposed by H.S.M. Coxeter. Each zone, using two unique unit patterns, is then folded and interwoven with other zones. Notice that the four colored zones, with its two unit patterns, and its under or over weaving alternations, create a total of sixteen design variations for the quadrilateral faces.

Dos Equis


Niche Awards 2016 Winner

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Boreas, part of Anemoi light art collection, is a winner in the 2016 Niche Awards competition in the category Paper. This year Niche awards received over 1,600 entries and it is truly an honor to be selected as the winner. Zephyrus, also part of Anemoi light art collection, is also selected as a finalist in this competition. I was invited to exhibit at Niche Awards Finalist Gallery at American Made Show in Washington D.C., in which the winner was announced.

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Asia Talents: Ideas for Tomorrow, Bangkok, Thailand

In September of 2014, I received another formal invitation to participate in Asia Talents exhibition in Bangkok, Thailand. My trip to Bangkok was again  fully funded by the Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce, Thailand, and Thailand Institute of Design and Innovation Promotion. Other sponsors of the exhibition were W Bangkok Hotel and six international design magazines including Wallpaper, Livingetc, Elle Decoration, Casaviva, Interni and Form. Curated by Anon Pairot from Anon Pairot Studio, the group exhibition was centered on design ideas for tomorrow.

Exhibition promotion material
Exhibition promotion material

Invitation letter to Asia Talent: Ideas for Tomorrow exhibition
Invitation letter to Asia Talent: Ideas for Tomorrow exhibition

The exhibition took place in Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center from October 19th to October 23rd, 2014. As part of an international trade show, Asia Talent exhibition was visited by thousands of visitors. I exhibited about a dozen pieces of Folded Light Art.There were 29 other talented designers from the Asian-Pacific region including Alvin T, Benjametha, Cheng-Tsung Feng, DesignTree, Dinsor, Hinika, Ito Kish, Kimu Design Studio, PDM Brand, Project Khatulistiwa, Soo Jung Park, Sahil & Sarthak Design, StudioNorm, Tim Webber Design, Wigmore & Asquith, etc. My work was published in several design magazines in Thailand such as Elle Deco and Wallpaper*.  For more information about Asia Talents: Ideas for Tomorrow, please visit http://asiatalents.info/201402/designers.html.

Thailand International Trade and Exhibition Center, Bangkok. Photo Source: http://www.bangkok.com/business-trade-exhibitions.htm
Thailand International Trade and Exhibition Center, Bangkok. Photo Source: http://www.bangkok.com/business-trade-exhibitions.htm

Video promotion of Folded Light Art at Asia Talents exhibition
Video promotion of Folded Light Art at Asia Talents exhibition

Video promotion of Folded Light Art at Asia Talents exhibition
Video promotion of Folded Light Art at Asia Talents exhibition

Folded Light Art at Asia Talents exhibition
Folded Light Art at Asia Talents exhibition

Folded Light Art at Asia Talents exhibition
Folded Light Art at Asia Talents exhibition

Folded Light Art being photographed by Elle Deco magazine
Folded Light Art being photographed by Elle Deco magazine

Review by Elle Deco
Review by Elle Deco

Review by Wallpaper*
Review by Wallpaper*

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Photographed with some of the Asia Talents designers, as well as designer and curator Anon Pairot

Asia Talents: 10 Eco Designers, Bangkok, Thailand

In August of 2014, I received a formal invitation to participate at Asia Talents: 10 Eco Designers in Bangkok, Thailand. The event was fully funded by the Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce, Thailand, and Thailand Institute of Design and Innovation Promotion. The exhibition was curated by one of the best designers based in Bangkok, Anon Pairot from Anon Pairot Studio. The opening of the exhibition was attended by the Prime Minister of Thailand and was broadcasted on national TV news in Thailand. As a result, my work and my design brand, Folded Light Art+Design, was promoted and published in the exhibition catalog, exhibition web site, and other media. I exhibited with some of the most talented young designers in Asia Pacific, including Tim Wigmore, Rebecca Asquith, Hans Tan, Jarrod Lim, Alvin Tjitrowirjo, Joshua Simandjuntak, inBetween, Sahil and Sarthak.

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Invitation letter to Asia Talents exhibition in Bangkok, Thailand

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Asian Talent: 10 Eco Designers exhibition promotion material

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Asian Talent: 10 Eco Designers exhibition promotion material

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Folded Light Art published in the exhibition catalog

The group exhibition took place at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok from September 18th to September 21, 2014. It was visited by hundreds of visitors. It was my first time to Thailand and doing an international exhibition in such a short frame was very intense. I had a lot of help from the staff from Anon Pairot Studio. I exhibited my Booma Table Light collection as well as my Tyvek Folded Light Art collection. I was also invited to participate in a panel discussion on sustainable design that was monitored by professor Patrakit Pong Komolkiti from the Department of Industrial Design of Chulalongkorn University. For more information about Asia Talents: 10 Eco Designers, please visit http://asiatalents.info/201402/designers.html.

Queen Sirikit Convention Center Bangkok. Photo Source: http://openbuildings.com/
Queen Sirikit Convention Center Bangkok. Photo Source: http://openbuildings.com/

Folded Light Art at Asia Talents: 10 Eco Designers
Folded Light Art at Asia Talents: 10 Eco Designers

Folded Light Art at Asia Talents: 10 Eco Designers
Folded Light Art at Asia Talents: 10 Eco Designers