biomimicry via pattern

(In Process)

Proposal for an Independent Study 2018:

   In the Spring term of 2018, I plan to orchestrate an independent study that explores patterns and algorithms found throughout the natural world. My role will be the designer and researcher of this project and the study will be overseen by Sarah Steinwachs.


   This study is inspired by the independent study that Sarah Steinwachs and I created in the Fall of 2017. The study focused on creating virtual patterns which were applied onto products for The Academy of Natural Sciences to use as they deemed appropriate. I had access to The Academy’s specimen storage, which included, but was not limited to: shells, fossils, birds, bugs, skeletons, plants, and fish. I gravitated towards the shells due to the patterns that are created via innate algorithm by the organisms living inside, and the reasoning for evolution in shell formation.


   By recording and altering these patterns virtually, I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of pattern. Studying natural patterns changed the way I think, and in turn, the way I design. Which is why, once again, I have decided to pursue an independent study with a focus on pattern in the natural world.


   Rather than creating patterns virtually, pieces will be designed and built in mediums and process’ that will be best suited for the final forms. There will be reasoning for everything, especially process and medium used to build the final forms.


   A study of naturally occurring patterns has endless opportunities simply because patterns and algorithms are found everywhere, from sea shells to weather patterns, from the evolution of life to the all pervasive natural force of entropy. With such a diverse range of study, between all that is in motion and that is not, inspiration is everywhere and the sky is no where close to the limit.


   Natural patterns have balance, purpose, and structure, all of which are characteristics that are beneficial to design. In preparation of the study, I will create a research board listing basic characteristics that create a strong pattern/structure. Based on those characteristics, I will research patterns/algorithms that would be beneficial to design and design process.


   The research developed from these observed patterns and algorithms will result in: a written explanation as to why each pattern has been chosen, maquettes, final pieces, and research boards which will include: information covering the movement of the pattern, any studies that were created, process work, brainstorming, sketches, graphics, information from cited sources, and pictures of specimens.


   This process will happen multiple times and each final product will have a focus on a predetermined pattern and medium (3D printer, laser cutter, woodshop if accessible, painting, sculpture, acrylic molding (think Iris Van Herpen), string (tensegrity-Snelson/ or layering string). The medium and process for each pattern will be decided after the patterns have been chosen and there is reasoning for why the process and medium is most applicable to the specific pattern.


   To finalize the study, a synopsis of all studies will be written, concluding all observations, how these observations were applied to design the final pieces, an explanation of research methods, how the information was applied/helpful in the designs, a bibliography, and an appendix.


   The bibliography will consist of any sources from the Drexel Library, Penn library, and Academy of Natural Sciences (each institution will have a required visit and source). The appendix will consist of any materials and specimens that were studied from The Academy of Natural Sciences.