Where do you begin to review a book as beautiful as this? I was privileged to see it as a work in progress over a year ago and even then, I knew it would be something very special indeed. A little scene-setting may be in order.
Paulo Mulatinho and his partner Silke Schroder formed Origami Deutschland in 1989 and began producing what to my eyes was the most attractive origami magazine in the world. Paulo focussed his talents as a graphic designer and photographer on expressing his love for origami. Over the years, their company Viereck Verlag has grown into a world-class supplier of origami paper and books and even expanded into the flat beneath their own in Freising, Germany, to present world-class exhibitions in the Origami Galerie.
In all these activities, Paulo has insisted on the highest possible standards of both design and presentation, regardless of the cost. This approach is probably unique in a world where recession is raging and almost everything is produced with cost as the most important factor. It is also the reason why this book is so special. Paulo could easily have compiled a variety of diagrams, shot some beautiful photos and had it printed somewhere in China using two colours.
But he didn’t. He had it printed at a local printer where he could ensure every facet of the printing was of the highest quality. Despite being a superb photographer himself, he commissioned a highly respected local photographer called Herbert Bungartz and flew Tomoko Fuse over to shoot a huge number of exquisite photographs for the book. When I expressed some worry about the potential cost of a project conducted to these standards, Paulo simply replied “Money cannot be an issue, it must be done properly”.
It may be that his entire creative life has been leading up to this point, a culmination of dozens of previous publications and projects, where he decided that he would simply express his love for origami and the work of Fuse in its purest form, with no concession to the time and money it would require. The resulting book is quit simply the most beautiful “origami” book I have ever seen. Every page is a masterpiece of design and beauty functioning together to exemplify the principles of the Bauhaus that Paulo loves so much.
In many ways, to call this an “origami book” is to hugely undervalue it, since it is so far removed from the typical diagram collections that we are so used to. With some of Akira Yoshizawa’s books, I usually turn to the opening sections where there are some beautiful photographs of the models. With Spiral, I get the same feeling of delight on almost every single page.
So, to the contents. I shan’t list individual models, suffice to say it is a comprehensive collection of dozens of Fuses exquisite spiral designs. The book is divided into five parts; Helices and Spirals, Spiral Shells, Whirlpool Spirals, More Helices and Spirals and a part presenting biographical information both about and by Fuse herself. It too is exquisitely presented and fascinating to read.
You will need to be a competent folder to achieve good results, many designs start with asymmetrical paper and creases that must be put directly in place. However, the beauty of the models shown is a constant spur to raise your folding to the required standards. Text is used sparsely, often to explain some point of geometry or creative background. I must mention Heinz Strobl here, who did much of the proofing of the diagrams and geometric information, no small task. His work was augmented by the not inconsiderable skills of our own David Brill.
On the Viereck Verlag website, you can see many stunning images from the book. It costs 78 euros (plus postage, I assume) but my advice is to make whatever sacrifices you have to in order to own this superb book, you simply won’t regret it. I’d also suggest that in buying it, you are helping to support the team that produced it and to help repay their substantial investment. They have set new standards that I doubt many (sadly, including myself) will be able to follow. My dream is that after a long holiday, Paulo may possibly decide to produce another book of the same quality. We can only hope so…
You can now buy the book from the British Origami Society supplies page as well.