I think it’s safe to say the vast majority of the origami world will not have known Simon Anderson, a Danish folder who died on May 20th 2013. I first learned about him when I corresponded with Thoki Yenn in the 80s – he would say “have you seen the latest design by Simon? It’s wonderful!”

Simon’s story is one of an intense relationship with paper-folding, which ultimately formed a wedge between him and those who had been his freinds. You can read his story and see some of his work at paperfolding.dk, lovingly maintained (to strict XHMTL standards) by Hans Dybkjær.

I have vague memories of writing to him once, but the fold that I remember him most by was a seemingly innocuous fold from A4 that looks like a waterbomb when finished. “So what”, I hear you say  – but trust me, try it and if you have any appreciation of the folding art, you’ll delight in the elegance of the twist the forms the model in a single movement.

simon anderson waterbomb twist

2 Responses

  1. I remember Thoki Yenn showing me Simon’s model of the Sydney Opera house; similarly simple and elegant.

  2. I was saddened to hear of Simon’s recent passing. We were in semi-regular contact for some years during the mid ‘90’s, when I would receive substantial boxes of models from him, accompanied by lengthy hand-written letters and step-folds. My relatively meagre replies would be met with a further avalanche of goodies. I don’t now recall how our correspondence stopped at that time — perhaps I was simply exhausted.
    As has been remarked, Simon was anything but your regular paper folder. I made the effort back then to keep our correspondence alive because his ideas and responses were always interesting and unconventional; veering from the brilliant to the nonsensical (though it was sometimes a problem to decide which was which!). It took me a while to learn not to disagree too strongly with his ideas or to put forward my own ideas if they were in contradiction to his. The role Simon wanted of me, I believe, was to help him better understand his own point of view and creative style, not to discuss. I was happy to comply, but eventually grew weary.
    Then about 6 years ago, unexpectedly, Simon somehow found me again. I valiantly tried to keep up with the torrent of models and letters that he was sending me seemingly by return post, but the effort was too great. Frankly too, it was apparent that through his isolation, he had only random snap-shots of what was happening around the origami world and any references I made about such-and-such a model or folder, or site, or exhibition, or book would be met with a ready acknowledgement that he hadn’t heard of it. We were on solid ground if we discussed Simon’s ideas and Simon’s models, but wider discussions were problematic. Gently, I tried to encourage him to go online, but for his own reasons, he would not, much to his apparent regret. Reluctantly, I added myself to the list of people who had tried to communicate with him, but who ultimately gave up. In an era when communicating electronically is the norm, writing letters and folding models to mail was too time-consuming an effort for me.
    His models were almost always magnificent. They were deep and subtle, but unfortunately also too easy to dismiss at first glance as inconsequential or child-like. For me, he’s right up there among a select list of Most Underrated Folders. His Fox from an A rectangle is one of my all-time favourite models, using the ‘square root of two’ geometry to economic perfection. It’s a true masterpiece. To my regret — and I know to his, too — he never put everything together in a book. Such a publication may never have been a best seller, but it would have been a ‘must have’ for any serious student of origami and a book of singular character. Hans Dybkjaer is to be congratulated for maintaining a site devoted to Simon’s models and writings. It is the book Simon didn’t write, in electronic form.
    We have lost a unique and important voice in origami, whose potential, I would consider, was regrettably never fully realised or recognised.
    Paul Jackson

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