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Basics that are anything but.

Unbuttoned with Cardborigami founder Tina Hovsepian

ladyboss tina hovsepian
Meet Tina Hovsepian

I'm very excited for today's exclusive interview with Tina Hovsepian, inventor of Cardborigami, an origami-inspired structure intended to give shelter and privacy to the homeless, refugees and those in need.

Most of us can agree that we would love to change the world, but in reality, most of us don't for various reasons, namely a lack of inspiration and/or follow-through.

Luckily, Tina is lacking in neither. I am so excited to share Tina's story and watch as it progresses.

In Tina's words:

"A designer is very fortunate to be profoundly inspired and moved to create something tangible for social good. Every design has some inspiration, sometimes obvious to all, and sometimes so subtle that the designer herself doesn’t even realize it. I have come to realize that my true inspiration for my creativity is Buddhism. This wonderful philosophy teaches that all people have the potential for good, and subsequently, to positively impact their environments.

While at the USC School of Architecture, I traveled and studied the architecture of Japan, China, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Hong Kong during the summer of 2007. But most importantly I had a life changing experience when I witnessed, first hand, poverty in third world countries. When I returned from Asia, I realized how I was taking the comfort I have on a daily basis, for granted. I then determined to use my skills and talents to somehow make a positive impact on the world.

Fall of 2007, I was inspired to design a collapsible shelter made of cardboard and using the Japanese folding art of origami- I call it CARDBORIGAMI. The design opens in moments to provide instant shelter and privacy with no assembly required. My goal was to use this to help those who have been displaced due to massive disasters. Thinking back, I feel so fortunate to have been able to at the young age of 20, discover my mission in life, synthesizing my talents and my passion to help people.

Recently, I was honored as a 2015 Mother of Invention by Toyota which includes a Driving Solutions Gant. I also had the opportunity to present my invention at the Women in the World summit, which convenes extraordinary leaders such as Meryl Streep, Hillary Clinton, and Angelina Jolie as well as inspirational activists and political change-makers who share their stories, and offer solutions to building a better life for women and girls. It was exhilarating!

I am currently working on expanding my organization and mass producing larger Cardborigami structures for Nepal and in preparation for similar disasters that may occur in the near future. The long term goal is to create more permanent, flexible housing that will be essential to long term disaster relief."

portable housing end homelessness

Tina's Cardborigami shelters.

Unbuttoned with Tina Hovsepian

Style icon: Lady Gaga
Favorite heroine: Shigeru Ban, if he were a she
Dream lunch date: Hilary Clinton
Favorite cliché: There is no great genius without a touch of madness
Personal motto: Do good and Do well
Idea that changed your life: Nothing is impossible if you never give up
Always trying to improve: All aspects of myself
Most envious of: Those who can successfully dedicate 100% of their time, energy and resources to their passion
Most inspired by: Courageous innovation
Fashion item you would ban: Heels
Favorite piece in your wardrobe: Fierce Blazers
Biggest extravagance: Dinner, my fiancé is Italian
Can’t bear to spend on: Taxes
Irrational fear of: Insects
Brains or beauty: Both
Audrey or Katharine Hepburn: Audrey
Jennifer Lopez or Lawrence: Lopez
Diamonds or pearls: Both


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