Cardboard High - Made in or-ita, Claska Gallery, Tokyo

October 30 - November 21, 2010

An exhibition about Or-Ita, a new tool for sculpting cardboard with:

Hisakazu Shimizu
Makoto Orisaki
Mitsuru Koga
Mike Albelson
Ryuji Nakamura
Yo Oe

curated by Eizo Okada

I met Makoto Orisaki in a meeting and sat together in a train to get back home. After some exchange of mundane conversation, Makoto showed me his self-made tool from his bag. It was a cutter to make folding lines on cardboard. With that cutter, he said, one could shape cardboard in any preferred way. He even demonstrated how to use it on the train. Makoto also told me that he was planning to self-produce the tool. He told me that he was selling a few hundred self-made blades to earn enough capital for the mass production.
A few months later, I found Makoto promoting his cutter, or-ita, on twitter. I immediately accessed his website to purchase two cutters. I also became an Empathic Investor he was looking for; investment as empathic gesture without asking for financial return. Soon, I received or-ita. I used it, and found it impressive. To promote his or-ita further, I wrote an article in AXIS magazine.
A cutter with specially shaped blades, or-ita makes precise incisions into cardboard so you can easily fold it any way you like. Designer Makoto Orisaki, who created the cutter for his personal use, has decided
to commercialize it on his own. Although he is selling several hundred hand-made or-itas as “mother models,” he is soliciting contributions from people sympathetic to his initiative in order to raise the necessary funds for mass production. I would like to see this tool, born of ten years’ research into “lines,” placed in the hands of many in its present form.
Or-ita is simple enough to manufacture manually, and once you use it you cannot live without it. A tool with such simplicity and acclaim is hard to invent. The simplicity of or-ita makes the act of folding cardboard as familiar as the act of folding paper. I thought that such a wonderful tool should not be merely used for package. There has to be new expressions that become possible with the use of or-ita; so-called cardboard furniture and products may be benefitted from or-ita. As I wonder what or-ita could be used for while writing the article, I came up with the idea of organizing an exhibition with it. Participating designers and architects are given or-ita to come up with objects that the originator Makoto cannot imagine. If the exhibited works are interesting enough, visitors may be inspired to come up with creative usage of or-ita by themselves. I thought that the exhibition could be an opportunity to find more empathic contributors.
So I asked Makoto to see if he agreed with this idea. He agreed and the project started. Six participants were selected from the broad spectrum of specialism. While Makoto himself is taking part in it, I selected others who may come up with unexpected outcomes. For those who did not know about or-ita, I explained its usage briefly and gave a cutter to play with it in the everyday context for finding inspirations. A month later, I had their ideas presented. Three out of Six exhibitors had clear visions, while the rest had to have extra meetings to shape their ideas for the exhibition. I believe each work satisfied the “presumed” unexpected in the end.
Oe Yo, a fashion designer told me that he would want to use fabric rather than cardboard. Original blade for or-ita is a blade made specifically for cutting fabric. With the slight change of shape of the blade Oe is familiar with, he can de- familiarize the way he works with fabric. Oe became interested in that and came up with an unique piece of clothing in the shape of or-ita blade.
Mike Abelson from POSTALCO looked at the springiness of cardboard. It is difficult to stack up old cardboard boxes to throw away because they begin to work as a spring. Taking advantage of such structure, he made some concept models to experience “cardboard springs.”
An artist Mitsuru Koga made a cardboard box. It looks ordinary but the thickness of it is only 5mm. It is designed to resemble the shape of two dimensional perspective drawing, but one can open it to store documents in it.
An architect Ryuji Nakamura made a simple chair. It is reinforced with bars inserted into the wave-shaped structure of cardboard. Since the bars are placed in between the surface, the chair looks like a 1/1 model made in an alternating material. It does not look durable, but the actual strength can allow an adult to sit on it.
A product designer Hisakazu Shimizu designed a table in the scaled shape of castella with a boat-shaped tray. It represents where he was from, Nagasaki. He is not interested in cardboard as a special means of expression, but in things he wants to make which can be made in cardboard.
Makoto Orisaki, as an inventor of or-ita, felt responsibility and self-confidence. He gave himself a task to fold repeatedly on a large sheet of cardboard and work on it for 15 hours. Origami Magic Ball thus explores the functionality of origami when the material is replaced in cardboard.
The exhibition, Cardboard High, was named after Runners High. I wish that each participant gets high in enjoy working with or-ita, while cardboard as a symbol of cheap and disposable material can compete against high culture.

English translation by Daijiro Mizuno