How did you get into paddling? I grew up canoeing coastal rivers in northern California with my parents. Ironically I got into paddling more when I moved to San Francisco. I was curious about the ocean and started sea kayaking, in the bay mostly.
How did you end up designing boats? I’d never designed a boat before I started working on the Oru Kayak. I’m an architect by trade. As a designer I have always been drawn to boats. Boats are one of the things whose shape is most dictated by function but also one of the most beautiful things designed by man.
Where did the idea for the Oru come from? It was an interesting synergy. I moved into a small apartment in San Francisco and had to figure a way to store my boat and at the same time I read an article about origami. I wondered if I could make a kayak out of a piece of paper and I folded one that night. I figured out the basics of boat design at the same time I figured out origami. It was a crash course.
What influenced your design process? I didn’t really have any influences. I started from scratch. It was very experimental and experiential thing, I think, compared to other boat designs.
What would you say is the most innovative things about the Oru Kayak? I combined a very old object and a very old design element and made something very futuristic that’s still rooted in the past. It’s one of the simplest construction phases of any boat. Once the guys in the factory are trained they can make a boat in five to 10 minutes.