Origami is, of course, the subtle art of folding paper to create sculpture, first invented by the Japanese centuries ago to entertain annoying hyperactive children at science museums. Magnets are, of course, a basic scientific principle that confuse idiots wearing face paint. The two together form some pretty awesome furniture.

Developed by Zhang & Thonsgaard, at first it’s a little odd to look at. These pieces start life as, literally, a flat plane: They come in a sheet of triangle in a tessalation with a textile laminate for backing to keep them all together.

As you might have guessed, you start folding. Magnets cleverly hidden at various points work with clips you attach, and, after a little folding and clipping, you’ve got a table or a chair. Well, more of a stool, really, but the point is, you assembled it.

Obviously you’re not going to be able to furnish your house with magnetic origami furniture, partially because they only come in a limited number of shapes. But it is a fairly clever demonstration of the intersection of art and design; Zhang & Thonsgaard have a unique object here that you can’t find anywhere else, making it art, while their processes offer a pretty fascinating idea about industrial design and concepts for where it could go. It’s not hard to imagine IKEA cribbing a few of their ideas in order to create some of their smaller furniture pieces and make some things easier to ship to stores.

But, for now, we can just enjoy the concept of surprising people with weird stools. Uh, as in stools you sit on. Just for clarification.

Dan Seitz

Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.