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Upon A Fold in Japan - Cochae

1st September, 2010
Jenny Butler
Wednesday 1st September 2010

Oh my... today Justine introduces us to an insanely clever Japanese design duo... Cochae are a graphic design unit based in Tokyo and run by Yosuke Jikuhara and Miki Takeda.  Much of their work is inspired by Origami...! I LOVE it!  Why has nobody else ever thought to turn a pair of denim overalls into an elephant, huh!?  Genius!  - Lucy x

Just brilliant! Super creative folds for Milk Magazine shoot. Oh, how I love Mr Elephant.

Postcard designs for Amanohashidate

I would have to say the most rewarding part of my recent trip to Tokyo was meeting up with designers whose works I have been admiring for ages and ages. Talk about star-struck! That’s exactly how I felt. I left each encounter on a tremendous high, and in awe of these talented creatives who spend their days making playful products for people all around the world to enjoy. A tough gig huh?

When I think of playful products, I think of Cochae. Ahh, my two loves - origami and graphic design in perfect synergy. Cochae are a graphic design unit based in Tokyo and run by Yosuke Jikuhara and Miki Takeda. Origami is the basis of their designs and together they explore ways of taking it beyond traditional Japanese paper folding and to an all new level of fun!

Setting up for a show always requires a lot of folding!

A series of bright and colourful characters created by Cochae for Playtime Paris (a tradeshow dedicated to kiddy stuff).

I caught up with one half of Cochae, Yosuke Jikuhara in Tokyo recently and it was great to meet him in person after a year of communicating via email. Finally I had the chance to see his work up close instead of through my computer screen, hooray for that! I love Cochae’s graphic illustrations and clever folding tricks and it seems so does Tokyo. You’ll find Cochae creations all over this city and not just their paper puzzles but their books and graphic design work too. Yep, there’s some serious talent and skill between this creative duo.

Beautiful images from a book by Cochae about Japanese Kokeshi Dolls

The gorgeous Orimato Dolls

My favourite Cochae creation would have to be their Orimato Dolls. There’s nothing like paper dolls to get my heart racing. I love how flat sheets of paper turn into an adorable family of 5, with just a few folds. It’s magic!

Flyer design for Faifai TV in Japan

Just some of the funny faces you can fold with Cochae’s Funny Face Puzzle cards

Funny Face is another awesome idea from Cochae and it was awarded the prestigious Good Design Award in 2008. Whether you’re feeling happy, sad, ecstatic or just downright cranky, you can create a face to reflect your mood with these cheeky origami cards. And guess what? For the next two weeks, we’ll include a funny face card inside every order. So if you place an order at our little shop of paper and folds by September 15, there will be a funny face waiting for you to fold any which way you choose!

Next up I’ll take you on a tour of some of my favourite online Japanese shops.

See you tomorrow xx

A couple of scary faces promoting Cochae’s Sharaku Eye Mask Postcard book.

Poster design for Memory Theatre.

Branding for Peace Boat Voyages.

Free downloadable characters for Canon Online.

Yosuke and friend Usagi just before we said our goodbyes.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email