Edited by Jason Ku

João Charrua, Portugal.
All images by João Charrua



Señor Bug

I have never been to Portugal, and I have never met João Charrua, so this interview was truly the best way for me to get to know him. His models are eye catching, heart touching, and have this artistic look that make you look again, and deeper, before you scroll down to the next post. As always, 10 questions with 8 answers, as one of the questions itself is an answer.

Who is João Charrua?? Please tell me in five sentences what I must know about you.

João: João Charrua is an adult with a child's spirit, at least that's what my parents say. I love everything that is unusual, but actually I'm a pretty ordinary guy. I am persistent, which is often confused with being patient. Well, patience is not one of my strengths. I like the small pleasures of life and especially sleep, perhaps that is because I dream when I sleep. Besides architecture, another of my passionate interests is creating imaginary geometrical figures out of folded paper.

What is origami to you? Why are you interested in origami? What was the first model you folded? Can you say origami changed your life in anyway, or is it just a hobby?

João: I love a good challenge, especially when I think that I am not able to meet it, because that is when my best qualities come to the fore.
For me origami poses an immense challenge dictated by the limited form of creation: in essence, origami is just the metamorphosis of the material.
I also think that origami as a process of creation is a reflective act underlaid by logical reasoning. Above all, I see it as a form of manipulation of the material that allows one to transform ideas and concepts into something physical in which for each model the starting point (plain paper) is always the same, but the possibilities are endless.
I do not remember exactly what was the first model I made, possibly a traditional one that I learned at school, but I remember the first one that I created on a blintz base: a small owl. I see origami as complementing my professional activity and essentially as providing a means whereby I can freely express my creativity, but for now it's just a hobby that I nevertheless take very seriously.

What is your muse? What drives your creative process? Do you fold other people's models? If so, do you have a favorite designer? What one origami book will you take with you to an island?

João: I think that every creative act constitutes the representation of an idea. It's hard for me to say exactly what is my source of inspiration. Deep down, I think my ideas are the results of the range of experiences that I have had throughout my life, whether in the form of books, exhibitions or films, as well as many others.
All these moments and experiences leave their imprint on my subconscious, and sometimes a thought, an emotion, a fleeting image, a line or even a fold may trigger an idea. Increasingly I am less tied to the models of other designers, mainly because I do not like to follow all the steps in the diagrams and even when I can finish a model I like always to add a personal touch.
Frequently, when I'm following another's diagram new ideas arise, and I end up making a completely different model. Within the world of origami I especially like artists who convey something in their work: a message, a story, or an aesthetic idea – basically something that creates an emotional bond with the public – for example, Joseph Wu, Giang Dinh, and particularly Eric Joisel, (who for me is truly inspirational), and many others.
The reason that I mention only contemporary artists is due to the fact that I started, not long ago, creating my own models and my taste is influenced by many styles. I haven't got many origami books, so, in answer to the last part of the question, I think that I wouldn't take an origami book with me, because I probably wouldn't have any paper to fold apart from the book's pages. So I think I would only take my notebook and a pencil to draw.



Mr. Fish

As I go through your flickr page I see a distinctive style and themes. You fold figurative models, mostly from the fantasy world. What are those figures? Is this your interpretation for things you saw or read about, or is it all from your imagination?

João: These figures are my imaginary friends. For me they are real and exist in my imagination. I also think that they might be the result of many cartoons or movies that I've seen or books I've read, I can't say exactly what they are. I only know that they are the result of my experiences over the years mixed with a hint of my imagination.

Can you shed some light on your work process? All these hand diagrams you post on your flickr page; are they made before folding or do you draw them after you finish folding? Simply asked – how do you do it ?

João: For me, the most effective way of materializing a concept is by drawing, because through this act the hand functions as an extension of the brain and it's like the ideas flow directly onto the paper. Interestingly, with origami, the process is similar because you fold as you imagine, however it requires a knowledge of certain techniques that regulates the discourse of forms. Origami requires rational and sequential thought, where each fold goes to form a part of the whole, and they all have to come together to produce the final result: the finished model. A primary element of the creative process, for me, is above all the commitment and effort that I dedicate to origami.
I believe that by repeating the process many times, certain gestures, folds or techniques become routine acts, so that a natural creative process develops, underlaid by the subconscious. My models may emerge in an improvised manner using a small piece of paper that I carry with me in my pocket, or else by representing the image of something real, an animal or an object, that I have seen.
But for me, the greatest challenge is to imagine a figure (like those on my flickr) and then try to reproduce it in the form of origami, as if I am drawing it on paper. I like to gradually see the model develop without using many pre-markings, and to accomplish this, I always try to create a short sequence for the base. Then I can provide some personality to the model, improving some details and exploring the plasticity of paper, treating it as the raw material to be shaped.
I think, in a way, I still have much to learn and explore in this universe of folds, and my creative process at this time is somehow associated with my freedom in exploring origami, without constraints or preconceptions, using a range of techniques associated with some improvisation.

Homem Sapo


Empty Angel

What papers do you usually use? Why? How do you decide what paper to choose? Do you try to match the paper to the model?

João: The choice of paper depends on the type of model to be folded. If I have in mind a very linear figure, for example with very thin arms and legs, I prefer thin paper in order to be able to model the details. In these situations, normally I select papers like double tissue or tracing paper. On the other hand, if I seek some tension in order to achieve volume, I prefer heavy paper like watercolor, elephant hide, craft or even recycled paper. Most often I make my own customized paper to obtain certain textures and colors that can add an extra personality to the models. In these cases I like trying different techniques to obtain certain effects, where improvisation and experimentation are the key elements to achieve the desired goal.

Do you have a motto in your life? Is origami part of that motto? Is there a message in your art?

João: I believe in our daily lives we all have to overcome different challenges, either on a personal or collective level, and this is part of our essence. For me, origami is a bit like the representation of this scenario, since to achieve one's goals one has to fulfill a series of steps and meet challenges. In order to do this, one has to be persistent and try to improve each model one produces, and only then can progress be made. I think that this is my motto: resilience – persistence – achievement.
Each model that I've created is unique and represents a very specific state of mind. One can almost imagine the narrative behind each figure. For me the model fulfills its purpose when it arouses some kind of feeling or emotion in those who see it.

I am sure there is one model of yours that you would like to point out to us. Which one is it, and please tell us why you chose it?

João: I like to see volume and geometry in models as well some details. On the basis of these three things, I would choose the model of the gorilla as it has a little of these three characteristics that I love.

Is there one last question I should have asked? Ask yourself, but don’t answer. Just let us know what is the question …

João: Do you fold in your dreams?

Name João Charrua
Place of residence Évora (Portugal)
Profession Architect
Email joaocharrua [at] gmail.com
Website Click here

SR. Caviera


To really know a designer, you must fold his models. Here are the diagrams for Sr. Caveira.

Click here to download the diagram.

-Ilan Garibi