Akira Yoshizawa Google Logo Honors Grandfather of Origami


A colorful, origami-inspired logo appears on Google’s home page today, in honor of Akira Yoshizawa, who was born on this date 101 years ago. Recognized as the “grandfather of modern origami,” Yoshizawa was a renowned paper craft artist who created new techniques and a notation system that would inspire generations of origami artists to come.

Google’s origami logo features the regular letters and colors of the logo seemingly constructed of paper, in the origami style. On top of the capitalized, blue “G” sits an orange origami butterfly, while three others in various colors rest on the smaller letters in the logo.

Google worked with origami master and former laser physicist Robert J. Lang to create today’s Doodle. As Lang explains in an interview published on the Official Google Blog, he had the opportunity to meet Yoshizawa several times in the course of their work in origami. Of Yoshizawa’s work, Lang said:

“While there were other Japanese artists who explored their country’s folk art contemporaneously with Yoshizawa, his work inspired the world through a combination of grace, beauty, variety and clarity of presentation. To him, each figure, even if folded from the same basic plan, was a unique object with a unique character.”

It seems Lang took pains to ensure a 3D effect, with shadows cast behind the letters and the various “folds” showing throughout the logo. It would have been really cool if Google had animated the logo, as they did with their Gumby Doodle last year. In that Doodle, characters morphed and jumped around when the user interacted with the illustration. This time, clicking on the logo links to the search results page for Akira Yoshizawa.

Yoshizawa honed his craft over decades of origami practice, even as he worked in a factory, trained as a Buddhist monk, and served in the Japanese medical corp in World War II. He invented the “wet-folding” origami technique, where folders moisten the paper before folding to create different, softer effects. Upon his death in 2005, the New York Times credited Yoshizawa with inventing a new notation system that allows folders of any language to follow folding instructions using dotted lines to indicate the direction of the folds.

The world will always remember Yoshizawa as the man who took what had been largely a children’s craft and made it art, through his lifelong work in developing and promoting his craft.

Google has honored a number of other artists with their Doodles through the years. Here are just a few:

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