not a sunrise (ミウラ折り 3)
Image: not a sunrise (ミウラ折り 3) by Dan Rosen

The problem with maps is that the moment you unfold them, it becomes a complete nightmare to fold them back into their original compact form. Ergonomically this is a big problem, but not if you use the Miura-Ori folding technique!

Inspired by Origami, Koryo Miura and Masamori Sakamaki from Tokyo University’s Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science, created the Muira-Ori folding technique to allow people to unfold a map in one action and refold it with minimal hassle. It is touted to “transform the ergonomics of map folding”.

Miura and Sakamaki normally work on the problems of packing large flat items, like satellite antennae and solar collectors, into the smallest, most compact shapes with a view to deploying them as rapidly and as simply as possible. They saw three problems with maps folded at right angles in the conventional manner. First, an orthogonally-folded map requires an unduly complicated series of movements to fold and unfold it. Secondly, once unfolded there is a strong possibility that the folds may be “unstable” and turn inside out. Finally, right-angled folds place a lot of stress on the paper inducing, almost without exception, tears which begin where two folds intersect.

The key to an alternative system of may folding lies in the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding, origami. One of the most common origami effects is to use a variant on concertina folding to produce a slightly ridged surface composed of a series of congruent parallelograms, by a variation on concertina folding.

Miura and Sakamaki looked at this kind of surface in terms of its geometry and elasticity and came to the conclusion that the most important point of difference from an orthogonally folded sheet is that the folds are interdependent. Thus a movement along one fold lire produces movement along the other. In other words, the user can open the map with just one pull at a corner. The new method also solves in part the other problems which Miura and Sakamaki cited. Interdependence of folds means that it is very difficult to reverse them and the amount of stress place or, the map sheet is also reduced because only one thickness of paper comes beneath the second fold, avoiding the need to fold several sheets.

How is this for initial research for my next version of the Expandable Sketchbook? Looks like I’m off to a great start.

Check out the full article here, and if you are interested in a step by step process of creating a Miura-Ori origami fold check out the instructions below from ThinkQuest! Please click on the images from left to right and then top to bottom. The text is in Japanese, but the visual and numbered instructions are pretty clear.

Hat tip to Sebastian for pointing this out.

Kohi Sunrise

Sorry for that cliffhanger of an ending in that last post where I announced that I would be leaving Philips Design at the end of September. I like to be a little dramatic at times and I thought it would be a nice lead in to the story I’m going to tell you today.

So what, you may ask, am I going to do next?

I have spent most of my life working for people, or more accurately, designing for other people and making said people rich! Well not really…but I did decide that it was a time to do something different. Central to this plan, as you probably guessed by now, is Design Sojourn.

If I do a little counting, my Design Sojourn blog has actually been in operation for almost 5 years now! Throughout the history of this website, I have shared my ideas and thoughts on design, bounced these ideas (and sparred) with designers from all over the world. I have even helped and mentored designers whenever I could. I hope such efforts have contributed to the international design industry as a whole and in return allowed me to build some credibility as thought leader in design.

So it is then logical to expand Design Sojourn into other areas beyond just blogging. I plan for Design Sojourn to evolve into a design consultancy and brand management company. Yup, I’m going to be an entrepreneur.

Here are a few more details:

Design Sojourn The Blog

First and foremost Design Sojourn the blog, will continue, but it’s going back to its roots. This blog cut its teeth by helping designers be the best they can be. Design Sojourn was and is all about “How to do good design, and make clever products”. I did, in recent years, evolved this blog into Strategic Design. However I realized that by helping designers become more strategic, it was really still in the same vein of helping designers be the best they can be. Being strategic is the name of the game in today’s design industry.

I have also taken a look at the state of my blog, and I have to say I’m not happy with it. In the recent years, my heavy workloads and family commitments have influenced a drop in the quality of my posts. I had discovered one day that the posts people came to Design Sojourn for were more than 2 years old. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not angry or anything, I have accepted that my priorities and attention were needed elsewhere. I will therefore plan to dedicate more time in writing useful and engaging posts that will make your visit to Design Sojourn worthwhile. Growing Design Sojourn is high on the priority list, with a target of doubling readership in the next six months.

I’m going edgy. Simple but edgy. Oh, and critical too, but constructive critical.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Finally, now that I am on my own, I will not be tied down nor associated with any brand. I’m now a Design Rōnin. A master-less designer roaming the world and kicking ass! Sorry, too many Akira Kurosawa movies.

Rest assured that I’m not about to take a “dump in my own backyard”, but do expect a more edgy tone, more rants, and of course, constructive criticism. Not being associated to any brand does provide the freedom to have an unbiased view.

Design Sojourn Consulting

After everything, the unfortunate hash realities of life still exist. We still need to eat and I have a mortgage to pay. This is where things here at Design Sojourn will start to be a little different.

Many companies setup a company then a blog to get them going. I’ve actually flipped this approach on its head by turning my blog into a company, Design Sojourn Pte Ltd. Here is what we do:

Design Sojourn is a multi-disciplinary strategic design consultancy.

We see ourselves as guides or translators for clients and partners in their journey in design that will go beyond products and into services, systems and processes. We are also teachers and students at heart, so we are passionate in building creative environments and improving the design industries through training and education.

Anchoring our creative process around the tenets of Joy with Functionality and Simple but Edgy, we offer full end-to-end design solutions that range from commercially savvy design languages that fulfill business needs; to manufacturing viable and resolved designs; to marketing, communications and new media solutions. However we are also nimble and flexible enough to take on that “quick kill” design problem.

No job too big or too small.

I can promise you that other than getting a “Hire me” banner up, and an update to my About page, I will not be constantly reminding you of my consulting services. However, in the coming weeks, I will share more about Design Sojourn Consulting and what it stands for. Especially its design process which, I think, you might be interested to see?

If you, or someone you know, need my services or want to collaborate with me, please do not hesitate to contact me at I won’t bite, and if something does come out of this tie-up, I will be in your debt as this will allow me to continue to blog, not to mention pay my mortgage…

Design Sojourn Brand Management

The other thing that Design Sojourn Pte Ltd is going into is Design Entrepreneurship. As Design Producers, we design, develop, and produce products under our own brand or basket of brands. We also work closely with awesome designers to collaborate on products from design to market. When the time is right you will know who these awesome designers are.

I’m sure by now, you also know about our Spaces for Ideas brand? Well you will be pleased to know that we have spun the brand off Design Sojourn and given it its own dedicated site at To celebrate the launch of the site this new start, we have reduced the price of the Expandable Sketchbook, so if you have not gotten your Sketchbook yet, do head on over and get one now!

Edit: Due to time commitments, I am unable to run two websites at the same time. Therefore I am re-integrating the Spaces for Ideas store back into Design Sojourn. This should also make it a smoother navigating experience for you as well. will still exist and will be reborn when the time is right. If you can, do check out the Spaces for Ideas store? We will also be expanding the Spaces for Ideas product range to include more sketchbook solutions.

On a side note, will focus more on sales transactions and product information. My sharing of development efforts, as well as the design activities will still be here on Design Sojourn. I’m guessing that you don’t want to be bothered with all this blogging noise when you make your purchases or vice versa?

On Design Sojourn, you can expect some announcements as well as the banners you see now. I’ve dumped the ugly Google ads, and will continue to streamline the site’s design so these ads do not overpower your reading experience. However, they will be a necessary evil, as Design Sojourn is the main marketing engine for my Spaces for Ideas products. Please do let me know, if you have any feedback on this matter?


There are a few other things in the works, but they are currently too premature to talk about it now. I’ll let you know as soon as they are ready to fly! All I can say is that they will be quite awesome.

What do you think? Am I out of my mind? Many of you have been part of my own design sojourn right from the start as friends and loyal supporters. It has been a great honor journeying with you and I do hope to get your continued support of this website and in all my future endeavors. Thank you.

Sorry friends, this post is a week later than promised. I have been caught up with a lot of work of late. So in the same spirit as my Expandable Book where I shared my first prototypes, here are some thoughts of the prototypes from my latest sketchbook designs.

In design, the process is always the same, but every problem and its solution is different.

If you have not already done so, check out my previous article previous article Spaces for Ideas: New Additions to the Family! to give you a better context of where I am coming from. The process this time was a lot quicker as we were more ready to roll then my first Expandable Book design. This was because of my eagerness to realize my concepts so that I can expand the range and that my sketch models were ready to be taken to the next level. It also helped that I learnt a lot about the book construction process with the successful launch of my technically difficult Expandable Sketchbook.

Spaces for Ideas: Story Book

As described in my previous post, this Accordion Fold Sketchbook was inspired by traditional Japanese accordion fold sketchbooks popular in artist circles. This 40 page (20 panels front and back) sketchbook allows for 2.1 (or 4.2) meter long space for uninterrupted creation. In fact, the accordion sheet allows you to develop your designs in a storybook-like manner. Starting from the first page to the end, you can link each panel as you see fit. Because of this I thought it makes sense to rename this sketchbook concept as the Story Book instead.

The folded pages should be flushed with the edge of the cover and not stepped in as you see it here. By the way, this sketchbook has the perfect paper texture – I spent a lot of time selecting the paper!

This “thumb gap” idea, created by the space between the rounded paper and square cover corner, is not working at the moment. This “thumb gap” was originally meant to help with opening the sketchbook as well as creating a nice quirky element. Unfortunately, as you can see, this bent corner was the result of me spending a day field-testing the sketchbook in the side pocket of my cargo pants. I am afraid with regular use, there would not be much of a thumb gap left!

The simpler the design, the more perfect each element or detail needs to be.

This is all I have at the moment, but suffice to say, I will still be spending some time to refine this sketchbook design. I will also be looking into the ergonomics of drawing on a stack of accordion linked pages and the orientation of the cover. That thumb gap will likely disappear, and the rounded corners, if still possible, be taken all the way into the cover.

Spaces for Ideas: Iteration Book

The Iteration Book, formally called the Tracing Paper Sketchbook (such a boring name eh?), is designed for old-school designers, architects, and animators, who love to trace over their sketches as a means to develop their designs.

The Iteration Book is created in a square (148x148mm) format as it allows creative people to use this book in a 180 degree manner. You can open it from the left or right or even reporter style (bottom – up). The spine is formed by an open stitch binding process.

Again, I spent a lot of time selecting the paper. This powder white tracing paper is great to write on as it has the gripping feel of normal tracing paper, with the lightness of rice paper.

This is an example of how your sketches will look like under an overlay. Please also note the smudges are intentional as I was testing different pen mediums. Ballpoint pens, markers, felt tip pens and traditional drawing pens (with pigment ink) all work well on this tracing paper. The only problem I had (hence, the smudges) was with Gel ink pens as they take a much longer time to dry. It is a general characteristic of Gel ink pens since they have long drying times on all types tracing paper. I am wondering if this would be a big issue and how many of you would want to use Gel in pens in a tracing paper sketchbook like this? I would love to hear your feedback on this.

Spaces for Ideas: Bookmark Strap

For the 3rd design, I have a special treat for you. In my previous article, I mentioned briefly that there was a 3rd design, and this 3rd design was not really a sketchbook. I could not tell you too much then, but now with the pictures of the prototype, seeing is understanding!

So what do you think of this Bookmark Strap? I’m quite excited about this idea, but it still requires some fine-tuning of the prototype. This is particularly important, as the Bookmark Strap is meant to fit all Spaces for Ideas products! This includes the two sketchbooks in this blog post and the Expandable Book as shown in the images! It will be sold separately from the sketchbooks so that you can decide if you want one or more.


All in all, I hope you can see from my design process how important it is to “get real” quick. The faster you are, the more you will learn about your design. However we also need to realize that there are limitations to the medium. That is why prototypes in actual materials, are vital in fine-tuning designs. They can bring to a design a heavy dose of reality. So despite the higher cost of prototypes, in comparison to foam/sketch/mockup models, they are certainly well worth the investment.

So what do you think of the process and the designs thus far? I would love to hear your feedback.

When I started developing the Expandable Sketchbook it was meant as a fun personal design exercise that was an outlet for my passion for sketchbooks and design. What I did not expect was the out pouring of voices of support! I think I might have uncovered an unmet niche that Design could make a difference in the lives of people, in this case, people using sketchbooks. On that note I would like to thank all my loyal and passionate friends that supported this entrepreneurial effort by either purchasing the Expandable Sketchbooks and/or giving me detailed feedback on how I can design it better.

During the 2 week pre-order sale, I manage to sell just under 60 sketchbooks and a bunch more after that. At first I was a little disheartened as I did have a minimum order quantity of a 1000 sketchbooks to clear. But after speaking to a few internet entrepreneurs, the number of sketchbooks that I sold was not too bad for a first go. So all in all, I became quite encouraged by this small start.

I also realized that, if I was going to go through all this effort (and it was a lot!) to market the Expandable Sketchbook both online and off, it would make more sense to introduce, not just 1 product, but a range of sketchbook products. In other words, I could take advantage of economies of scale to market a brand or an entire range instead. Furthermore, if I can take a page out of my product development experience, a product range offers multiple propositions that retailers will find more interesting and less risk in carrying your products.

So without further adieu, I like to introduce two new members in the Spaces for Ideas family! There is actually a 3rd design but I will keep mum on it for the time being as the proposition is not quite there. Plus it is not really a sketchbook. The first addition to the family is an accordion type fold sketchbook that expands the Spaces for Ideas range, this time bringing the expandability concept into another direction (literally). The second addition is code name the “Spaces for Exploration Sketchbook” for the time being. It is an A6 square format 100 page sketchbook made with 65gsm tracing paper. More details to follow below.

Spaces for Ideas: Accordion Fold Sketchbook

The Spaces for Ideas Accordion Fold Sketchbook was inspired by traditional Japanese fold sketchbooks that are quite popular in Artist circles. This 40 page (20 panels front and back) sketchbook allows for 2.1 (or 4.2) meter long space for uninterrupted creation! The pages all folds back into a nice tight pocket-able package. The images you see above and below are very rough prototype mock ups I created for sizing comparisons and usability studies. So, please note they are not the final designs, color or material!

As you can see the size of the Accordion Sketchbook is close to the Expandable Sketchbook’s A6 body, but minus the thickness of the spine.

This mock up is different to the actual product as it only has 12 panels. The final design is likely to be double in thickness to the mock-up as it uses 140gsm paper made from recycled FSC certified pulp.

What I like about this design, was my exploration of the rounded corners within the folded sheets. This allows for a nice gap for your finger as well as a unique looking pattern on top of the Sketchbook’s folded and unfolded pages. Inspired by origami elements, I wanted to create a detail that was both whimsical and memorable.

Spaces for Exploration: Tracing Paper Sketchbook

I unfortunately don’t have pictures for this mock up yet as it was more of a Lego type design process of pulling different elements together to create this proposition. This book was inspired by the way animation designers and old school Creatives work. This solution was also developed from a discussion with a friend, who suggested that I create a sketchbook for Architects by using thin rice paper. After doing some user research, testing, bouncing the ideas with entertainment designer Feng Zhu and twittering with sketch guru and Creative Director at Frog Design Michael Ditullo, I developed and refined the designed with a 65gsm recycled tracing paper that has a really nice texture for drawing.

Further my brief description earlier, this sketchbook was designed as a very portable 145mm x 145mm geometrical square that allows you to orientate and use the book to how you see fit. For example you can use it in an animation style by starting from the back of the book and working towards the front of the book. Or if you are left handed like me, I like to open the book reporter style with the cover flipped up to the top and out of my way. Finally this sketchbook will be stitch bound as it allows the sketchbook to open flat (no spines in the way) for your drawing pleasure.


The prototypes for both books, in actual materials, are currently being constructed, so do stay tuned for an update in approximately 2 weeks time. I can’t go into too much details at the moment, but the cost of the two books will likely be lower than the expandable sketchbook. I had to work and push really hard to keep the costs down as the cost of raw paper has gone up in recent months and, strangely, recycled paper costs more than virgin pulp. At the end of the day, I’m pretty happy with the costing as it allows me to fill out my sketchbook range by offering other propositions at different price points.

So what do you think my friends? Worthy additions to the Spaces for Ideas family? I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the propositions. A big thanks in advance!

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