Folding is an art form, a way of turning a plain piece of paper into an object of beauty. But the art of folding is used throughout the design world for a variety of purposes. We've discovered an exciting group of designers, architects, and artists who have incorporated folding into their designs in fresh and unconventional (yet practical) ways. Once we started researching, we found out that almost everything can fold: houses, bicycles, furniture, tents, trailers, and even boats.
Great design fills our needs before we even know we have them. Case in point: the plethora of folding bikes that have sprung up to fill the need for easy urban transportation. We profiled Yike Bike, an electric folding bicycle seen above, on Been Seen last year. Since then we've been treated to a new set of creative folding bikes designed for different activities.
The Folding Bike Bag by Bergmönch is a nifty design that's both a backpack and a fully spring-mounted downhill cycle. It weighs 9.5kg and folds up into a small pack that hikers carry on their back while ascending the hill or mountain.
Once you're at the top, take two minutes to unfold the bike and then ride back down the trail.
The Folding Bike Bag is like a more a heavy-duty version of Bicycle Backpack, a 2008 entry into Taiwan's International Bike Design Competition. The bike weighs 12 pounds and folds into a 2-foot backpack.
The Locust bike by Josef Cadek may look goofy, but its circular shape enables it to fold up compactly and fit into small spaces.
According to the designer, Locust is made for inhabitants of urban centers who rely on a mix of personal and public transportation. Cadek suggests that the Locusts' small shape and ease of use make it ideal for bike rentals. The bright colors are for safety.
For all folding bike riders, a folding helmet is a must. This one is by Stashkit.
Granted, not everyone wants to zip about town on a modular bicycle. For gear heads, there's the City Car from MIT. The designers envision these electric, two person stackable cars as a new method of public transportation.
Folding is often incorporated into architecture. False Bay Writer's Cabin by Seattle-based Olson Kundig Architects is a perfect example of this technique. When the cabin is open, a wide deck extends from the glass walls of the cabin.
When the owner is not in residence, the deck folds up towards the home, fitting snugly against the sides of the cabin.
Another cool low-impact cabin: BARK's All Terrain Cabin. It's a 480 sq. foot off-grid pre-fab container home designed for people who want to live off the land.
If you just need some space to get work done, the Tetra-Shed is the place for you. Designed by David Ajasa-Adekunle, the Tetra-Shed is meant function as an outdoor office. The panels fold down when the shed isn't in use to form an alien-ish looking pod. Store it in your backyard and tell the neighbors that it fell from the sky.
For your folding office, a folding lap top with full keyboard.
And a bendable cellphone from Samsung. This is still just a concept, but supposedly the phone is to be released this year.
A folding home should have folding furniture, don't you think? This stylish chair and lamp combo is from Dutch designers NieuweHeren and bears the elegant name The Poets. The lamp shade is half-moon shaped so it lays flat against the wall when you're done reading.
This elegant folding "Pick Chair" from Japan's Studio Dror unfolds into wall art when not serving as a seat.
Folding book lamps are cute and practical.
Folding has really taken off in kitchenware design as the ability to store bulky items flatly clears up cluttered kitchens. The Joseph Joseph Fold Flat Grater is convenient for two reasons: it's easy to store and it's much easier to clean than a non-folding box grater.
Folding is also great for streamlining bulky outdoor items. Adhoc Folding Canoe collapses down into a simple backpack.
If you're not planning on canoeing down the Colorado, Foldboat is a single-sheet plastic boat that can be used on still water bodies such as canals and lakes.
Oh, and forget to bring along your foldable hiking shoes!
On the road? No problem! The lightweight Exodus camper-trailer unfolds to reveal an awning and skylight. So now the you've seen all the cool ways things can fold, tell us how does folding make your life easier. MT