Bradford Hansen - Smith, dedicated a decade to studying geometry and its applications, realizing the profound nature of the circle as more than a mere shape. To him, the circle represented something greater—an embodiment of its internal essence. Through the act of folding circles, he discovered a spiritual quality in what he termed "Wholemovement." This philosophy viewed the circle as the fundamental source of all shapes in the universe, symbolizing the unity of the Creator. Remarkably, his exploration yielded astonishing results, transforming simple paper plates into beautiful geometric patterns. Instead of cutting the circle, he emphasizes the creation of intricate, defined designs through the initial folding process. While replicating his intricate craftsmanship may be challenging, anyone can create basic shapes. As a result, Bradford has conducted numerous workshops both nationally and internationally, emphasizing that "Wholemovement" is not a personal claim but a dynamic process that thrives through action.
HAQ-NI: What is your thought process when you are creating?
When I am most productive is when I can keep my thinking to a minimum and just allow the information to tell me what my choices are, then I go with those of most interest to me. This is not about creating as much as having a conjoint relationship with the circle. I do the folding using information the circle gives me, then take direction from the choices available at any given time in the process. This is similar to an artist that strives to understands the medium and material they are working with to then allow greater freedom for the unexpected potential to emerge.
HAQ-NI: Where do you usually work on your projects?
I typically work in small apartments, utilizing the space where I reside. Wherever I go, I carry a paper circle with me, allowing me to work anywhere. Through my experience, I've discovered that employing the circle's proportional movements when folding any piece of paper yields the same results as folding an actual circle. Thus, starting with a circle is not essential to achieve its folding pattern. Folding circles can be practiced anytime, anywhere, using any piece of paper. This accessibility enables anyone, at any moment, to explore mathematics, geometry, create beautiful forms, and expand ideas through the art of circle folding. In essence, I fold circles wherever I happen to be.
HAQ-NI: Who are/were your mentors?
Buckminster Fuller inspired me to adopt a fresh perspective on circles. Having a mentor who possesses the knowledge you seek is beneficial. However, since there aren't many individuals folding circles, I rely solely on my own experiences for learning. I have grown to appreciate this aspect. Perhaps I can encourage others to approach things from their own unique perspectives, acknowledging the value of their individual experiences.
HAQ-NI: Can you describe the evolution of your work?
As an artist, I always drew pictures in an effort to understand the nature of things. Through creating models, I gained deeper insights. For two decades, I worked as a sculptor before feeling the need to delve further into comprehending spatial relationships. Attending a class by Hazel Larsen Archer on R. Buckminster Fuller's geometry shifted my perspective, revealing patterns in a new light. Over the next ten years, I delved into geometry, seeking personal understanding of Fuller's teachings.
It dawned on me that the sphere holds the essence of all our knowledge in geometry, mathematics, and more. Traditionally, slicing the sphere in half and representing it as a flat great circle destroys its spherical unity, reducing it to a unit circle on a plane. However, by compressing the sphere into a circular disk, it retains its spherical wholeness while undergoing transformative changes without destruction. Through folding the circle, spherical information is simultaneously decompressed, merging 2D and 3D elements in dynamic patterns with each fold. I continue to be amazed by the profound breadth and depth of knowledge revealed through the act of folding circles.
HAQ-NI: Which of your projects has given you the most satisfaction?
My sole project that brings me fulfillment involves sharing my journey of folding circles with children, teachers, and parents. This aspect has always been integral to my process. Each individual has their unique experience with circles, and through interactions with students, I constantly discover new perspectives and learn from their creative approaches to folding. Engaging with people of all ages, even for brief periods, holds significant value in my exploration. It brings a sense of balance to my predominantly solitary work.
HAQ-NI: How would you describe your sense of fashion or the style? And did you have any style icons growing up?
I lacked a style icon in my youth, and that remains unchanged. I perceive fashion trends as fleeting, not leaving room for profound exploration. I view style as a collective agreement, representing community acceptance, while also allowing individuals to express their distinctiveness within a group. It serves as a means to visually manifest our inherent uniqueness and allow others to perceive us. Fashion represents the conformity of desired appearance, whereas style reflects the individual ego's presentation within the current fashion context.
HAQ-NI: Which part of the day is considered the most favorable or optimal?
I find myself more mentally alert and receptive during the morning hours, whereas my focus tends to diminish as the night progresses. During nighttime, there seem to be fewer restrictions or limitations on tasks or activities, which may either be disregarded or pursued further for enhanced clarity when approached in the morning.
This interview has been edited for brevity.