The world is a busy place these days, and we’re all getting increasingly frazzled. Sometimes it’s nice to take some peaceful time out, and mindfulness has become all the rage. But if yoga and colouring books aren’t your thing, how about a bit of Mindful Origami? Yes. That’s a real thing. We caught up with Sam Tsang from Mindfoldness to find out more:
How did you get into origami?
It was probably due to my primary school teacher who folded me a flapping bird. It wasn’t until after university that I got more serious. I placed a bouquet of origami flowers on gumtree.com on a whim, to see if I could sell it. It sold, and the number of sales slowly began to escalate until I got banned from the site for using it as a selling portal. Then I set up my own website. From there I regularly sold origami bouquets for weddings and first anniversary presents. A customer asked me to teach them how to make a flower as a paper anniversary gift for his wife, and from there I started to teach. At first it was just individuals, and then it was for groups, and corporate workshops, and hen-dos.
In April 2015 a journalist from The Guardian contacted me for a quote about origami being mindful for an article she was writing. In September a book publisher saw the article and asked me if i would be interested in writing a book about mindful origami! I naturally said yes and that book, The Book of Mindful Origami, was released on the 7th April. My second book – The Magic of Mindful Origami – will be out on 8th September.
How would you describe your teaching style?
My teaching style depends on the workshop I’m running. I teach several different kinds. There’s a team building one with a modular origami model, a hen-do origami flower bouquet workshop, a mindful origami workshop which focuses on the use of origami as a relaxation and meditation aid, and a general fun and educational origami workshop. In all of these I try to make it as relaxing, fun and as entertaining as I can but at the same time tell you some interesting facts and encourage you to learn a new craft.
Why would you recommend origami?
In recent years there has been an immense uptake of people practising Yoga, Pilates, Tai-chi and meditation. There has also been a massive resurgence of the arts and crafts fields – the immense popularity of Etsy and adult colouring books is testament to this. I believe that the increase in popularity of both of these fields is due to a reaction to our digital lives. Many of us spend over 8 hours a day sitting in front of a computer screen creating virtual documents that are read once and never seen again. From the moment we are awake to the moment we sleep we are connected to the world, answering queries on multiple devices or glued to social media.
We all need to be able to quieten our minds and to find some inner peace to balance out the constant noise of our modern digital lives. Many of us also need to have a creative outlet to express ourselves, and to make something tangible, something we can touch. Origami is a relaxing and peaceful hobby, a beautiful art, a craft, a science and a meditation all in one. When you are folding paper, there is stillness, calm and an inner peace. There is something beautiful in turning a plain, flat piece of paper into an amazing three dimensional object with just your own hands.It’s one of the simplest art forms in that it just requires a piece of paper and your hands – there’s no need for tools such as pens, brush, inks and paints.
I call origami ‘yoga for the mind’ as it allows you to stretch and exercise the creative and artistic areas of your brain that most of us don’t utilise on a day to day basis.
Can you tell us something surprising about yourself?
My other passion is cooking and I have actually appeared on three TV cooking programs the first series of Masterchef Goes Large, Chef versus Britain with Gino D’campo and Britain’s Finest Dish. I did want to pursue a career as a celebrity chef but found that Origami was far more interesting.
I was also the main organiser and adjudicator for the Guinness world record for the largest origami elephant display.
We had 34,000 of them and it took six hours to count!
What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not at work?
I actually have a daytime job working at a Bank! So origami is very much my hobby. I might consider switching careers one day, but at present I enjoy the stability of a day time job alongside my fun and entertaining origami hobby that has led to my own business, being involved in a world record, and publishing two books!
What’s your favourite part of London? Any places you’d recommend there? (Shops, businesses etc)
Tricky question as I have lived and worked in a lot of London. As a foodie Soho and Hoxton are close to my heart as it has such a diverse restaurant scene. In Soho, I like Patara for the best Thai food, and Joy King Lau and Hakkasan for the best Chinese. Atari-ya has the best sushi. In Hoxton, Taydo cafe does amazing Vietnamese food. Stickywings on Brick lane do the best buffalo wings, and I like Beigel Bake for 24-hour salt beef beigels!
If you could try any experience in the world, what would it be, and why?
I’d probably go to Japan so that I could visit the Tsukiji Tokyo fish Market and eat the freshest sushi on the planet, and also do origami!