Algorithms, Fonts, and Pop-Up Art for Lunch

At a recent event welcoming DesignPlus Learning Community students, MIT Professor Erik Demaine and entrepreneur Wombi Rose gave inspiring presentations highlighting different paths towards crafting compelling graphic designs.

By Adelaide Zollinger

Nov 1, 2023

DesignPlus, is one of MIT’s First-Year Learning Communities, and welcomes first-year undergraduates with an interest in design. It is a dedicated space for hands-on experimentation, skill development, mentorship, mutual support, and fun. Every year, around 40-50 students participate, engaging in diverse aspects of design, exploring both its theoretical foundations and practical applications. Weekly lunch gatherings sometimes feature guest speakers connecting students with a particular dimension of design.

In a recent DesignPlus event, the worlds of algorithms and naval architecture were brought together through two speakers, who explore graphic design and shapes from different angles.

Erik Demaine: The Algorithmic Artist

MIT Professor Erik Demaine, well-known for his work in algorithms, presented his unique approach combining fonts and folding with mathematical precision. Through origami-like patterns, Demaine creates visually striking fonts and sculptures. His research also delves into computational geometry, a vital aspect of design optimization across fields such as architecture and packaging. This approach emphasizes the intersection of mathematics and aesthetics in design.

"Tiling font," by Erik Demaine, Martin Demaine, Scott Kim, and Yushi Uno, 2021.
Courtesy of the researchers.

Wombi Rose: Crafting Messages, Popping Perspectives

Wombi Rose, co-founder of Lovepop and MIT alum, shared his journey from a career in marine engineering to a creative venture reimagining traditional greeting cards. Inspired by a trip to Vietnam, he transformed standard stationery into a canvas for intricate 3D pop-up art, offering a fresh way to convey heartfelt messages.

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