The Inspiration: Conventional take-out boxes fold out into a plate for the users to better enjoy their meal! Why don’t more things work such magic?

[Images courtesy of Kenji Shimada, CMU]

The Objective: To create a container out of folded paper of any weight that can transform into something else: e.g. a take out box into a plate, a ketchup cup into a plate, an origami box into a cup, and so on

The Rules: must be made of paper, no attachment mechanisms, no adhesives, must transform into something else but doesn’t need to revert back

The Tools: laser cutter, exact-o knives

The Focus: functionality, aesthetic, use quality, ease of use, repeatability in use, cognizant of small features

The Process:

Ideation in sketches


The decision was to go with a transforming phone case, in particular for an iPhone 5s (the closest phone at hand). The case would fold into a charging stand for use with the phone at night.

Design inspirations for the stand were taken from a project done by French designer Julien Madérou, whose website can be found here.

The case was designed off of the base design for a paper iPhone stand by Madérou, changing dimensions around, adding fold lines and functional holes for buttons, switches, and the iPhone screen.

lot of prototypes were made, with many failures.

Back to the drawing board for a while


More prototypes



Eventually, a design was reached that worked.


The color veneer paper enables customization on the back if the customer so chose to laser-engrave it with any pattern or text. The design is almost all straight lines, so it can be made easily with an exact-o knife and paper if needed.

The design flyer is a summary of use, with a little added flair!

Case Flyer