• Client:
  • Customs House, Sydney
  • Location:
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Partners:
  • Jennifer Kwok
  • Status:
  • Completed 2010
  • Size:
  • 8 m x 5 m
  • Images:
  • Peter Murphy; David Biene; Patrick Bingham Hall; Tim Griffith; @s_nappe_r


Combining ancient lantern making methods with cutting edge digital design and fabrication technology, the tigers brought east and west together through tradition and innovation, touring for the endangered species.

The crouching digital tigers combine ancient lantern making methods with cutting edge digital design and fabrication technology, and were a collaboration between LAVA and Customs House Sydney to mark the lunar year of the tiger and raise awareness about the endangered status of tigers.

The tigers are inspired by “zhezhi”, a Chinese term for paper folding, more popularly known by its Japanese name “origami”. Traditional Chinese lantern makers in Sichuan province, where lantern making has been taking place for over 800 years, and local artisans were consulted. The Chinese or Lunar New Year is the most important Chinese holiday and starts with a Lantern Festival. The Chinese lunar astrological sign was the metal tiger in 2010.

The tigers are 2.5 metres high and 7 metres long yet weigh only 200kgs and use fully recyclable materials, aluminium and barrisol, a light weight reusable stretch material. Pulsating low energy LED lighting brings the sculptures to life.

The project continues LAVA’s mission in lightweight structures to build MORE WITH LESS. 

The two Digital Origami Tigers started their world travels celebrating Lunar New Year at Customs House, Sydney in 2010, then went to Kuala Lumpur for KL Design Week, Berlin for the WWF awareness campaign, Singapore in the i-Light Marina Bay Festival and to San Francisco Zoo in 2011, Amsterdam Light Festival in 2013, Festival Lausanne Lumières in 2016, Toronto Light Festival in 2017 and in 2022 at Battersea Powerstation's Light Festival in London.

The project won a 2011 Australian Interior Design Award.  



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Design: Toko / Development: Damien Aistrope