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Origami Design Secrets: Mathematical Methods for an Ancient Art, Second Edition Paperback – Oct 5 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 770 pages
  • Publisher: A K Peters/CRC Press; 2 edition (Oct. 5 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568814364
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568814360
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 21.6 x 27.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #183,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


I am in complete agreement with the questions and thoughts expressed in his book. … This book is perfect for math geeks who aim to apply their math in a very creative way.
―, January 2012

Robert Lang made some substantial changes ― much to the joy of many origami enthusiasts. The first edition impressed with 594 pages full of high-quality content going into techniques, mathematics, and folding instructions. The second edition tops that by an extra 176 pages, an extra 30% of content! … Altogether, this wealth of new content definitely makes it worth buying the second edition ― even if you already have the first edition. As to if you don’t have either edition: I’d recommend going for the second one.
―Sara Adams,, December 2011

The good news is that a second edition of Robert Lang’s Origami Design Secrets is available. The bad news is you’re going to want to buy it, even if you have the first edition. … It’s a tribute to both the author and the publisher (CRC Press) that such major updates have been allowed. This book is without doubt the best guide to creating origami that has ever been published and I suspect it will retain the crown forever. … Quite simply, all creative folders should own this book if they have any interest in developing their skills. Even if they have no such interest, they should buy it ― it’s that good.
―Nick Robinson, origami artist and author, on his blog, September 2011

Praise for the First Edition:
The first part of his plan was to write the book he’d been contemplating while still at JDS Uniphase ― Origami Design Secrets, which was published in 2003 and lays out the underlying principles of origami and design techniques.
―Susan Orlean, The New Yorker, February 2007

When Robert J. Lang, a laser physicist, talks with passion about origami ― the Japanese art of paper folding ― the line between play and discovery also completely dissolves. Mr. Lang is what might be called an origamist (see He wrote the book Origami Design Secrets: Mathematical Methods for an Ancient Art and has created tarantulas, delicate herons, 12-spined shells and big-horned elk out of single, uncut, folded sheets of paper.
―Edward Rothstein, The New York Times, April 2006

This book is a synthesis of origami technique, history, and instructions, with very thoughtful and clear explanations for almost every aspect of the art of folding and designing origami.
―Sarah Gourlie, Math Horizons, January 2006

Lang chose to strike a balance between a book that describes origami design algorithmically and one that appeals to the origami community … . For mathematicians and origamists alike, Lang’s expository approach introduces the reader to technical aspects of folding and the mathematical models with clarity and good humor … Origami Design Secrets … is highly recommended for mathematicians and students alike who want to view, explore, wrestle with open problems in, or even try their own hand at the complexity of origami model design.
―Thomas C. Hull, The Mathematical Intelligencer, March 2005

This magisterial work, splendidly produced, covers all aspects of the art and science.
SIAM Book Review, November 2004

For most origami enthusiasts, the ancient Japanese art of folding and making creases is a mere hobby, and a grand pursuit for those giddily obsessed with the mathematics (or aesthetics) of how mere paper can be contorted into objects of beauty and interest. For Robert J. Lang, however, origami has become a life’s pursuit …
―Chad Berndtson, The Patriot Ledger, November 2004

… finally, the secrets of an origami master are revealed! It feels like Lang has taken you on as an apprentice as he teaches you his techniques, stepping you through examples of real origami designs and their development.
―Erik Demaine, October 2003

There is something for everyone here, whether beginner or expert, left-brained or right, specialist or dilettante.
―Gail Anderson, Engineering & Science, April 2003

About the Author

Robert J. Lang has been an avid student of origami for over forty years and is now recognized as one of the world’s leading masters of the art. He is noted for designs of great detail and realism, and his repertoire includes some of the most complex origami designs ever created. His work combines aspects of the Western school of mathematical origami design with the Eastern emphasis upon line and form to yield models that are at once distinctive, elegant, and challenging to fold. They have been shown in exhibitions in New York (Museum of Modern Art), Paris (Carrousel du Louvre), Salem (Peabody Essex Museum), San Diego (Mingei Museum of World Folk Art), and Kaga, Japan (Nippon Museum of Origami), among others.

In 1992 Dr. Lang became the first Westerner ever invited to address the Nippon Origami Association’s annual meeting; he has since been an invited guest at international origami conventions around the world. He lectures widely on origami and its connections to mathematics, science, and technology and teaches workshops on both artistic techniques and applications of folding in industrial design.

Dr. Lang is one of the pioneers of the cross-disciplinary marriage of origami with mathematics; he has been one of the few Western columnists for Origami Tanteidan Magazine, the journal of the Japan Origami Academic Society, and has presented several refereed technical papers on origami-math at mathematical and computer science professional meetings. He has consulted on applications of origami to engineering problems ranging from air-bag design to expandable space telescopes. He is the author or co-author of twelve books and numerous articles on origami art and design.

Dr. Lang was born in Ohio and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Along the way to his current career as a full-time origami artist and consultant, he worked as a physicist, engineer, and R&D manager, during which time he authored or co-authored over 80 technical publications and 50 patents on semiconductor lasers, optics, and integrated optoelectronics. He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, a member of the IEEE Photonics Society, and served as Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics from 2007–2010. In 2009, he received the highest honor of Caltech, the Distinguished Alumni Award. Dr. Lang resides in Alamo, California.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is one of the most thorough books ever written on the mathematics of Origami. (Believe me or not, Mathematics is the basis of most of today's origami designs.) In it, Robert J. Lang, one of the world's most accomplished folders, describes decades of his experience, allowing a keen reader to use many of the techniques to create origami models of their own. Many of the models included are exclusive to the book.
However, amazing as it is, purchasing this book is not worth the investment if one buys it only for the models. The number of models in this book is few, and no one short of a professional can make any of the models in the second half of the book. Believe me; I've been folding for over a decade. Some creases require precision within 0.05 cm, such as when it asks you to make a crease 234/698th of the way through the paper in the Bull moose.
The beauty of this book lies in it's concepts. The mathematical concepts included in this book are extremely complex; nothing short of university level. Indeed, this book would be well-suited for a university student of mathematics. Theories such as the box pleat and geometric variations of common bases are covered, and require a mature mind.
In summary, believe me when I say that this book isn't for anyone who's not a serious folder. Also, if you are a child or adolescent, it's recommended that you stay away as well. The few models that can be folded by anyone short of professional are not worth the $55 investment.
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By A Customer on July 17 2004
Format: Paperback
I approached this book with a beginner/intermediate appreciation of origami, having dabbled in basic and moderately difficult forms occasionally through the years. I haven't seen any of the reviews yet highlight the greatest asset of this book; that it teaches you to gain an insightful eye into how models are constructed from the elementary bases. Most importantly, it liberates the casual origami hobbyist from merely following instructions, and leaves the reader equipped with the folding methods and techniques to create his own models.
The unique aspect of the book's organization is that each folding technique is taught in a "top-down" hierarchy, beginning with the sheet of paper, and highlighting how "limbs" and "extensions" evolve from the folds. The more intricate methods are then re-illustrated, in the other direction, starting with the finished form, and reverse engineering how desired traits impact the pattern of creases on the unfolded piece of paper. This approach suites people of all learning disciplines, from those who prefer to see their models evolve as they are folded, to those who begin with an image of the final creation, and work backwards.
Several ingenious techniques are described for understanding the underpinning structure of a model, including an analysis of the creases made on the unfolded paper, how cutting and grafting can prove whether desired models are technically feasible, and how angles and edges limit the number of extended "limbs" that can be made. All of this is described in a straight-forward and colloquial prose, supplemented with an engaging historical account of the evolution of origami into a scientific discipline.
All told, this book is a masterpiece in aesthetic/scientific literature, which truly engages and inspires the reader. I highly recommend this book for artists and engineers alike, and anyone seeking to understand how beauty and complexity emerges from simplicity.
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Format: Paperback
Just two days ago, I had a very casual interest in origami. The primary reason being that I have no patience to simply follow instructions folding paper, and not seeing where all this paper folding is leading to till the last 1-2 steps. And, even then, why the precise sequence of folds has to be followed doesn't become clearer when you have completed your figure.
But, after getting this book, my entire perspective on origami has been drastically changed. For the first time, I have seen an Origami book which actually de-assembles the steps, and talks about the design in a top-down approach, focussing on the major folds/creases, and the general concepts and principles you need to create a figure of your own from scratch.
Despite the intimidating size of this book, you will very quickly get a sense of what all the folds are doing, and most importantly, start creating your own origami designs.
The origami designs in this book will amaze you - a heart with an arrow piercing it, a toy train, and a whole host of others which you won't believe were actually developed from a single sheet of paper without any glue or cuts.
don't be intimidated by the several pages of steps to follow to make a model. The text in each chapter gives an excellent overview and you will not feel lost in the design: in fact, you will begin to see why the creases/folds are necessary, even though you may have over 70% of the steps still to do.
Lastly, the chapter on the Tree Algorithm is outstanding. This chapter discusses a computational approach to develop an origami figure from scratch. By the time you reach this chapter, the author has done a marvellous job of putting all the design ingedients in place, so you will appreciate the advanced mathematical theory. (For me, this was the best part.
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Format: Paperback
It usually takes much more time to diagram a new origami design than it does to create it. Thus there are many wonderful folds that have never been diagramed. That is why it is so wonderful when a great designer manages to take the time to produce a book.
But this book is no ordinary collection of designs. Instead, Lang tries to guide the reader through the creative process and various techniques for designing new origami figures. From simple concepts to pattern grafting, circle packing and other techniques, the folder learns about powerful design tools in a clear and efficient manner.
Some origami books have brief explanations about design but only a few have gone into any real depth (J.C. Nolan's Creating Origami comes to mind), but this is the clearest and most detailed account written to date.
Of course the book is also packed with instructions for reproducing some of Lang's amazing creations (including the famous Black Forest Cuckoo Clock).
I hope that this book remains in print for many years as it is an amazing resource for folders and designers.
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