Brainstorming and Ideation

I have found myself interested in the rich history of Islamic geometric patterns. These patterns appear in pottery, architecture, metalwork and as decorative elements in scared literature. They often feature stars or equalateral polygons of 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13, or 16 points- depending on the era and location in which they are found. They generally follow a a specific construction to form set geometic patterns and precise tessellations. Each construction adheres to a unique methodology which allows for the pattern to repeat infinitely. The concept of infinity is prevalent in Islamic art and serves as a reference to Allah- who is believed to be infinite in form and capacity.

In Islam depictions of Allah and depictions of the prophet are strictly forbidden. This concept is known as Aniconism. The reasoning for the proscription relates to Islam’s condemnation of idolatry. Similarly, Muhammad was said to have been displeased by artistic representations of humans as well as animals. In his understanding, these were attempts to animate life- which is the exclusive privilege of Allah. As such, Islamic artists developed a sophisticated form of geometric art.

mbedded below is a TEDx presentation about Islamic geometric patterns which I found quite interesting.

A brief overview of Islamic geometry

have begun experimenting with the construction of these patterns. I hope to incorporate them into one of several concepts.

1.) a layered composition of geometric patterns
2.) a decorative column
3.) a set of ornamental tiles

There are endless patterns that one might generate- most requiring only a compass and a straightedge. Below is an example of concept I sketched using just these tools.

The shape above is based on an 8-point polygon. I have yet to distinguish the construction lines from the object lines.

File Work

I decided to pursue a layered composition of geometric patterns for my first project. I was interested in how these Islamic geometric patterns would translate into 3 dimensions.

To construct my patterns, I relied heavily on the shape tools, the grid tools and the pathfinder tools. I encountered some issues with intersecting paths- some of which bisected my shapes can caused trouble when laser cut. The pathfinder tools were very helpful in resolving this.

Below are some screenshots of my workflow.

Pattern 0 [w/ Construction Lines]
Pattern 0 [Tessellation Experiment]
Pattern 0 [Tessellation]
Pattern 0 [Completed]
Pattern 1 [Completed]
Pattern 2 [Completed]
Laser Cutter File Preparation

Prototyping and Iteration

I laser-cut test prints of pattern 1 and pattern 2 at about 3.5" in each. Below are the results.

Pattern 1 [Test Cut]
Pattern 2 [Test Cut]

Overall, I was quite satisfied with the results. I did encounter an issue when laser-cutting pattern 1- I found that the overlapping octagonal shape was not faithfully represented. I have some ideas of how I can translate the effect to the 3 dimensional model; it would include manipulating the layer below to raster only the intersecting lines- but it will take some experimentation in order to execute well.

For the final submission, I will likley decide to print each pattern slightly larger (4.5"in- 5"in) and experiment with the various materials and material thicknesses available. In addition to that- I would like to continue exploring patterns that can be made using this methodology and perhaps settle on a set of 3 or 4. I’d also like to examine the possibility of including a slight draft angle (15°) in these patterns to allow for the possibility of mold-making.

Final Assembly

I chose to make a new pattern for my final assembly using what I had learned making the previous designs.

Pattern 3 [Version 1]

I made some adjustments before finalizing the pattern. The resulting pattern is below.

Pattern 3 [Version 3]

Then I separated the pattern into layers.

Pattern 3 [Laser Cutter Profiles]

I laser cut the pattern with a diameter of 5" this time and chose to use 1/4" acrylic as the cutting material. The results are below.

Pattern 3 [Initial Cut]

I then decided to paint the bottom of each layer before removing the upper protective film.

Acrylic Paints, Foam Brushes, WIP
Painted Layers

Finally, I put the layers together after they dried. The final result is below.

Final Assembly

I enjoyed doing this project. I learned a lot about using the tools in Adobe Illustrator as well as using various materials and settings on the laser cutter. I will use what I’ve learned to inform my projects moving forward.