The Mondrian Cube –Quiet Elegance and Mathematical Beauty

At first glance an origami cube might not seem as appealing as an origami rose or an origami elephant. But this origami cube, –known as Mondrian Cube, has a quiet elegance and a precise mathematical beauty that make it as much an object of artistic expression, as it is a challenging puzzle looking to be solved.

The Mondrian Cube is a creation of David Mitchell (UK), a brilliant designer of modular and geometric origami.

mondrian-painting
Piet Mondrian’s Painting

The look of the Mondrian Cube suggests the grid-based rectangular forms of paintings by the twentieth-century Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian. The colors that Mondrian used in his iconic paintings were mainly primary colors (red, blue, yellow) in combination with with black and white.

The origami cube can be made with these five colors –or any other color combination depending on your preference, but for your first attempts I suggest using only three colors.

This twelve-unit cube is an excellent example of modular origami. The unit is very easy to fold but assembling the model might be challenging. Don’t despair! Take it slowly, persist gently, and you’ll surely have success in making this model.

The following step-by-step video shows how to make David Mitchell’s Mondrian cube. Thank you David for granting permission to present your model in Origami Spirit.

Tips and suggestions for making the Mondrian Cube

  • In the video, the cube is demonstrated using office paper. Any paper of similar thickness is ideal for making this cube.
  • A good size paper to make the modules is 4 × 4-inch (10 × 10 cm).
  • Twelve pieces of paper are needed to make this cube.
  • When first learning to assemble the cube use three sets of four squares. Each set of four should be the same color.
  • To achieve a “true” Mondrian effect the cube can be made with five colors (red, blue, yellow, black and white).
  • Use more than three colors to make the cube only when you have practiced making a few cubes of just three colors.
  • In the video you’ll see tips on how to make the cube using more than three colors.
  • Each finished module shows only one side of the paper. It is not necessary to use paper with a different color on each side.

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Would you like to learn more modular origami?

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12 thoughts on “The Mondrian Cube –Quiet Elegance and Mathematical Beauty”

  1. this was super cool, it took a couple tries, but i managed to finish the cube. This was a grade at school and this helped me out.

    Reply
  2. Making this cube with 5 colors colors can be a little frustrating. I had to work at it several times before I was successful.
    Here is a recommendation to make it easier: Minimize the diversity of colors in each group of four papers. Try, for example, making it with the arrangement as follows:
    Group 1:
    red, blue, red, blue
    Group 2:
    black, black, yellow, black
    Group 3:
    white, yellow, white, white

    Reply
    • Thank you Meenakshi. I learned the Mondrian Cube last April (2015) at the Mount Holyoke College meeting. Michael Naughton Taught it. I fell in love with the cube and could not stop making one after the next in the subsequent days… weeks!

      Reply
  3. Leyla … what a fantastic video. And to David Mitchell, a brilliant model.

    You have not only produced another stellar tutorial Leyla, you have also introduced us to the world of the Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian and the origami genius of David Mitchell.

    Thank you to Leyla and David for broadening our origami world in a most delightful way.

    Rosemary.

    Reply
    • You are most welcome Rosemary. I fell in love with the Mondrian Cube since the moment I made it. When I learned it, I folded one after the next. I’m happy that Dave Mitchell granted permission to make a video. Thank you for your visit and your kind words!

      Reply

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