Akira
Akira Yoshizawa is considered the grandmaster of modern origami and his paper folding skills were celebrated with a Google doodle today, marking his 101 birthday. Photo credit: Google

Akira Yoshizawa is considered the grandmaster of modern origami and his paper folding skills were celebrated with a Google doodle today, marking his 101 birthday.

Google transformed its usually flat, colourful logo into origami shaped letters of blue, red, yellow and green adorned with cute little paper butterflies.

Robert J. Lang, who is also an origami master, helped to create the Google doodle.

When I was first approached by Google to help create a doodle commemorating Yoshizawa's work, I jumped at the chance, Lang said. Google set the parameters of the design: the Google logo, of course, but to be folded with origami and then decorated with examples of Yoshizawa's designs.

Lang then said he created two samples for Google to choose from. One of the samples was in what he calls a classic origami style and the other featured three-dimensional version based on pleats.

Google liked the pleated version, so I set about designing and folding the rest, Lang said.

The butterflies in the doodle are folded from one of Yoshizawa's earliest, yet most iconic designs, he added. It is deceptive in its simplicity, but can express great subtlety in its shaping and attitude. The combination of simplicity and depth is part of the essence of origami, and is key to Yoshizawa's work and legacy.

Here are 12 interesting facts to know about Akira Yoshizawa:

1. He was born in Japan in 1911.

2. He was the son of dairy farmers.

3. He taught himself origami as a child and moved to Tokyo at age 13 where he worked in a factory.

4. He was promoted to a technical draftsman in his early 20s and use origami to teach junior employees about geometry.

5. He left factory work in the mid-1930s to take up origami full time and lived in poverty for more than 20 years.

6. He used to go door-to-door to sell preserved fish.

7. He used his origami work to cheer up the sick.

8. In the early 1950s, a Japanese magazine commissioned him to fold the 12 signs of the zodiac and that launched his international career.

9. His work was shown around the world including at the Louvre, according to reports.

10. He has published several books on his art form.

11. In the 1980s, he was given the Japanese honor of the Order of the Rising Sun, according to the Washington Post.

12. He died on March 14, 2005 in a hospital from complications of pneumonia on his 94th birthday.