Shapes in Nature-by Kalyani Pramod- continued

We previously explored the concept of form in design. Continuing on, there are numerous realms where shapes hold significance. As an artist, nature serves as both inspiration and a continual source of rich knowledge and insight. 

Patterns and shapes are ever-present in our surroundings, manifesting in various forms such as different shapes, symmetries, spirals, and cracks. Nature's repertoire of shapes is diverse and abundant, spanning from geometric precision to irregular, organic curves and flows. Nature presents a captivating tapestry of shapes, making the observation of geometric wonders an exciting endeavour. 

Geometric features are ubiquitous in nature, showcasing themselves in various forms and patterns. Natural elements like leaves and snowflakes exhibit complex and intricate shapes and patterns



Consider the honeycomb, with its remarkable arrangement of hexagonal patterns organized in a systematic manner. Flowers, too, offer a myriad of shapes and configurations. For instance, the "Six-around-one" or closest packing of circles is a renowned geometric pattern found in different flowers, displaying mathematically intricate tessellating hexagons and hexagonal packaging patterns. Similarly, fruits and vegetables exhibit diverse geometric shapes, such as the spherical orange




Understanding geometric shapes in nature and the underlying science indicates how various organisms flourish and thrive. Patterns in nature involve the repetition of shapes, serving specific purposes. For instance, the asymmetrical leaves on trees feature thin veins that distribute light and nutrients evenly. Another fascinating example is the hexagonal shape of beehives, optimized to maximize storage space while minimizing wax usage. The design of honeycombs facilitates the seamless stacking of sections, forming a continuous chain of functional, interconnected shapes



Consider the nautilus sea shell, which exhibits a seemingly endless fractal pattern, providing natural functionality underwater by withstanding pressure through its shape design. Romanesco broccoli, with its prominent fractal pattern, exemplifies how natural patterns contribute to growth and survival



While mathematics may seem abstract, its presence is evident in the plants around us. Concentric circles, like those found in tree rings or ripples in a pond, illustrate this concept vividly. The Fibonacci sequence, observed in the petals of sunflowers or daisies, further demonstrates nature's adherence to mathematical principles. Fibonacci is a series of numbers where the next number in the sequence is the sum of the previous two numbers. For example: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,............

Sunflowers mostly have 55, 89 or 144 petals and daises vary from 34 to 89.


Symmetry, whether reflective or rotational, is another captivating feature found abundantly in nature, from butterfly wings to starfish. Tessellations, though more common in art and design, also manifest in living organisms like bony fish, reptiles, or pangolins, with their overlapping scales or osteoderms forming repeating units.



Nature has always been a boundless source of inspiration for artists, designers, and engineers, focusing on the structural and functional aspects of natural forms. The shapes and forms found in nature evoke a sense of wonder and often breathtaking beauty. Leveraging shape and form in design offers a vital tool for problem-solving and the creation of more sustainable and efficient solutions by drawing inspiration from the natural world



Kalyani Pramod is a Designer, Artist, Fibre artist, Design teacher, Mentor and also a Director in Shuttles & Needles. She writes a series of articles in the newsletter about Elements of Design in simple non-technical language for everyone to understand the concepts easily.

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