Google's home page on March 14 featured a colorful doodle resembling folded paper, honoring what would have been the 101 birthday or origami master Akira Yoshizawa.
Born in 1911 in Japan, Yoshizawa was a factory worker when he discovered his passion for the ancient folk art. As a young man, he gave up his life in the factory and devoted his life to perfecting his origami. At the time of his death in 2005, the New York Times nodded to his greatest contributions to the art, namely his "wet folding" technique that allows the user sculpt moistened paper into 3D forms, as well as his notation system of dotted lines and arrows for guiding less experienced users through complicated folds.
According to a post on the Google Blog, written by origami artist Robert Lang, "[Yoshizawa's] work came to the attention of the west in 1955, after an exhibition of his works in Amsterdam, and rapidly spread around the world. In his last decades, he received worldwide renown and invitations from all over, culminating in his award in 1983 of the Order of the Rising Sun." (The Washington Post notes that Lang is a retired NASA laser physicist who has "devote[d] himself to the science of origami.")
Lang goes on to explain that he helped create Google's tribute to Yoshizawa and modeled the Doodle after Yoshizawa's own work. Lang also lays out directions for anyone to create their own origami-style logo.
To design these (or any letterform in this style), one can take a narrow strip of paper, fold it back and forth to trace the outline of the desired letter, unfold it, mark the creases, then arrange multiple copies of the strip pattern on a larger rectangle. The resulting crease pattern is moderately complex, and it gives a lovely 3-D form when folded, but conceptually, it is quite straightforward.
Visit the Google Blog to download a PDF template that you can print out and follow along to make your own origami Google logo. And take a look at the original Google Doodle honoring Yoshizawa (below).
Check out the slideshow for some of our favorite Google Doodles.