The designer Aljoud Lootah has earned her star adapting ancient processes to appeal to modern consumers. For her lovely Oru series, recently acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne as part of its permanent collection, the Emirati designer takes inspiration from a Japanese ancient art and transforms common Origami forms into functional objects.
Lootah arrived at the concept for the collection during a creative block, when she found herself grabbing at a lime green Post-it Note and folding and refolding it in a moment of frustration. “Once I saw the shape I’d created, I had a light bulb moment,” she says. “I realized that I could work with this shape by modifying its structure to turn it into a piece with functionality while still having it aesthetically appealing.” After researching various origami folds, she began by first constructing her designs with paper, then sketching the shapes and modifying them to work as functional products. To test them, she transferred her designs from paper models to small-scale acrylic models before building the final products out of teak wood and copper.
The Oru series, which takes its name from the Japanese verb “to fold,” features a table lamp, chair, decorative mirror and a cabinet with an exposed shelving unit. A couple of the pieces draw inspiration directly from popular origami folds: the teak wood and copper Oru lamp, for example, is a reinterpretation of the Origami swan and the angular Oru Cabinet was inspired by the jumping frog. Meanwhile, the striking teak wood and pink felt Oru chair is more of an abstract interpretation of origami folds. “Origami is very versatile,” Lootah says. “A pattern for a single shape can create various other shapes with slight modifications in either the mountain, valley, horizontal or vertical folds.”
Lootah first debuted the series as a limited edition collection at Dubai Design Week in March, and has since started producing the series at a larger scale and selling it on her site. Prices range from $3,540 for the Oru lamp to $9,530 for the cabinet.