I threw together this collection of classic paper mechanisms as a teaching tool for a class I co-organized (with Robby Kraft) at the School for Poetic Computation on the topic of paper as tech. (A description follows.)

I put these functional, foldable structures together in a collection so that our class might develop new ideas from the same starting point of "classical" paper-engineering knowledge. These fundamental structures are scattered between the non-overlapping disciplines of origami, compliant mechanisms, pop-up books and the study of Victorian papercraft. They originate from sources as disparate as Troublewit performance props, pre-television paper-based entertainment (Meggendorfer, etc), and NASA. Because the templates necessary to build, study, and evolve these mechanisms have not yet been digitized, I felt that the dielines on my computer would do better (and lead to more interest in this subject matter) in the creative commons.




Origami by Robby Kraft

Call for Students: Code Paper Scissors

  • Two-Week Session, Monday February 4th - Sunday February 17th, 2019
  • SFPC, 155 Bank street, West Village, NYC
  • 6:30pm - 9:30pm, Evening Classes


How does our understanding of technology change when abstractions become tangible? In this course, we'll use paper as a bridge between code, mathematics, and our human sensory experience of the world.

When we fold, we imbue an inert material with pattern, structure, animation, function, and interface. Folded structures give us a means to touch and manipulate difficult problems—offering an inroad for applying physical intuition.

Unlike simple machines (limited by static friction), folded systems can be applied at any scale, from nanometer to up the scale of spacecraft. Physical prototyping with paper also offers a nimble back-and-forth between digital and physical realms, allowing ideas to be quickly tested against physical forces. Can we use paper's unique properties to build a more sustainable, ecologically-aware technology?

Lead by paper engineer and designer Kelli Anderson and origami artist and developer Robby Kraft, SFPC’s two-week session will explore the wide variety of ways that a piece of paper can produce function.


Course objectives include:

  • • Using paper to give physical form to abstract concepts and make invisible forces in the world tangible
  • • Experience using paper to tap into physical forces in the world in order to produce function
  • • A thorough discussion of what paper-based and folding disciplines can bring to 21st century tech problems
  • • An introduction to prototyping methods, equipment, code-based modeling and testing strategies
  • • An introduction to silkscreened electronics
  • • As a class, creating a physical and virtual toolkit of paper simple machines


“The distant universe and our immediate world can both be found in paper.” – Kenya Hara



Who are the teachers?

  • Kelli Anderson (Co-Organizer) - Kelli Anderson is a designer/paper engineer who draws, photographs, cuts, prints, codes, and creates stop-motion videos. She is also known for her work for NPR, The New Yorker, Wired, and MoMA—as well as branding/space redesigns for Russ & Daughters and momofuku. Her books, This Book Is a Planetarium and This Book is a Camera, are collections of functional pop-up contraptions that elucidate scientific principles in tactile terms.

  • Robby Kraft (Co-Organizer, On-Site Support) - Robby is an origami artist, creative engineer, instructor, and toolmaker. He’s the creator of Rabbit Ear, the origami software design tool, and is proficient in all disciplines of origami including advanced folding, design, and mathematics and software simulation.

  • Simon Arizpe - Simon is a paper engineer and illustrator. His pop-up book work has received the Award of Excellence from the Society of Illustrators and the Museum of Comic Book Art and Cartooning. The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum Library and the Columbia University Library have acquired his work for their rare book collections.

  • Pam Liou - Pam is a computational designer and writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work examines tensions between craftsmanship, technology and commerce, revealing the hidden sociopolitical infrastructures undergirding human industry. Her research centers around recoupling the consumer with the producer through design literacy and mass customization, fostering intimacy and efficacy through a dialectical creation process.
  • Coralie Gourguechon - Coralie Gourguechon is a designer and a paper electronics maker. Her projects aim to to demystify electronics by simplifying the execution of simple circuits in a graphical way and using paper.

  • Taeyoon Choi (Session Advisor) - Taeyoon is an artist, a co-founder of School for Poetic Computation, an adjunct professor at NYU ITP and a former fellow at Data and Society. In 2018, Taeyoon is working on Distributed Web of Care and ongoing research with a critical perspective towards technology, ethics, justice and sensitivity to the concept of personhood.

Kelli Anderson - This Book is a Planetarium


Coralie Gourguechon - Paper electronic modules