What are the rules of origami?

Information on this page was supplied by paperfolding designer and author David Mitchell. More detailed information on specialist aspects of origami can be accessed at www.origamiheaven.com

There aren’t any. Origami doesn’t have rules, but it does have ethics.

Origami ethics are the design/realisation standards within which individual paperfolding designers and craft paperfolders may (or may not) choose to work and ideals to which they may (or may not) aspire.

The point of origami ethics is to preserve the degree of challenge that origami design and realisation offers, just as, for instance, the point of rock-climbing ethics is to preserve the degree of challenge that climbing a rock-face offers.

Origami ethics relate to such questions as

  • whether, and in what circumstances, to make use of cuts, glue or decoration
  • whether to work only from squares or to use other shapes such as oblongs, regular polygons etc
  • whether to work only with paper or to make use of a wider range of foldable materials
  • whether to work only with single-sheets or to combine several (or many) within the same design

These questions may be (and often are) enthusiastically debated in terms both of the general nature of origami and of their specific effect on the design and realisation processes. Whilst there is a broad general concensus among paperfolders on many ethical issues origami ethics remain essentially a matter of individual preference and choice.