The Fitful Flog

January 11, 2009

With Apologies to Mr. Ekiguchi

Well, rather a left-handed apology, as the injury to him is largely imaginary and thoroughly unintentional, but an apology, nevertheless.

This is a tato box:
Meditation XVII Box

by which I mean, an origami box with radial symmetry and a closure the resembles that of a tato, a traditional Japanese purse. In the past year, I think I’ve made dozens of these: different number of sides, curved, straight, slanted…. My colleague, Mélisande*, has created as many more, using a rather different construction method. The tato box is a good design to play with and we’ve certainly had a lot of fun with it.

This past week, I began to find that these boxes existed in the commerical world — they were being sold in galleries in New York and being used to hold gift cards for a largish dealer of ladies’ nether garments. For a while, being a vain creature, I imagined that these folks were modifying some of my designs — except that they weren’t. Twenty years ago, Kunio Ekiguchi, a Japanese author who writes about gift wrapping, published a design for a twelve-sided tato box in this book. He called it Chrysanthemum Box. The boxes I was seeing were manufactured versions of this and an eight-sided variation. That which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Including that last line.)

The boxes I’ve folded in the last year are not descended from Mr. Ekiguchi’s — just found out about him — but they sure look as though they might have been. The resemblance is accidental, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that the resemblance might not have grieved Mr. Ekiguchi.

Such duplication of effort is not exactly a new thing in origami, particularly with the more geometric models. And the fact that someone else already trod these same paths should not stop us from following them where they lead — but it is meet and right to mention those we now know to have been there before us, like Mr. Ekiguchi. (And Lai Chen-Hsiang from Taiwan, too, who has made similar boxes with a different closure method.)

This said, the crease pattern for the seventeen-sided model above and another for the seven-sided model below.
7-Sided Tato Box, Open Top, S-Curved Sides 7-Sided Tato Box, Open Top, S-Curved Sides

4 Responses to “With Apologies to Mr. Ekiguchi”

  1. 1
    Tom Hull Says:

    I have a commercially-produced box made of thin posterboard which used to hold Scottish shortbread cookies. It opens and closes using a fun, non-twist collapse fold which incorporates curved creases. I have no clue who originated that box — I’ve had it for 3 years now. (And it doesn’t resemble anything I’ve seen you do, BTW.) I’ll have to show it to you sometime and see if it’s in this Ekiguchi book you mention.

  2. 2
    oschene Says:

    @ Tom
    Did it look like this?
    Chocolate Box in Verbania
    Christine Edison saw one of these in San Francisco and reverse engineered it in a matter of seconds and then played several fugues on the theme.

    @ Mélisande*
    Hommage soit qui mal n’y pense point!
    (Well, I think that’s what I mean — negation in French, as you may have noticed, sometimes confuses me.)

  3. 3
    Mélisande* Says:

    Je souscris volontiers à des excuses si élégantes qu’elles ont valeur d’hommages.

  4. 4
    Tom Hull Says:

    It does look like that, except it’s hexagonal. My guess is that it’s the same concept, though. Now, if I could find a patent number on the thing…

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