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Sunday, 03 July 2011 22:50

Pattern And Design

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Last month while playing with a few left over circle-folded reconfigurations, then picking up a discarded variation of the icosahedron (all open planes) I could see where together they might make an interesting object. For the delight of seeing what it will look like, the satisfaction of actually making it, and the joy of discovering what it will reveal, I spent some time folding more units redesigning them to fit this particular form of the icosahedron pattern.

This is the result of how those circles came together and some thoughts about the process.







There are fifty-one circles; twenty 9” paper plate circles and thirty-one 6” circle filters. They have been all creased to the same folded matrix and reconfigured differently as they are joined to form this patterned arrangement. This object has been coated with glue size which makes holding it an experience different than what you expect; very rigid and smoother than it looks.




This is not as regular as we would expect of the icosahedron. One vertex is open giving polarity to the system. The other vertexes are open relationships between each triangle that have been closed in. Each triangle face is uniquely different. Where the triangles join are open locations of local centers for twelve pentagons. The edge channels defining the dodecahedron change in relationship to which triangle they appear and how they were reformed. The primary points of connection are the intersections of triangle and pentagon edges. There is consistency to the icosahedron pattern with subtle differences in design. Each circle unit has it own unique characteristic difference, much like in real life.


This object reveals the conditional pushes and pulls of the folding process in its forming, much like we would see in nature as individual systems grow to fulfill specific environments. The richness of the surface is in the irregularity of parts adhering to design criteria towards giving form to the pattern. After choosing the icosahedron pattern a series of design decisions followed where each unit is predicated on the developing organization and relationships already in place. The unit circle follows circle unity.


Each circle is reconfigured to a 3-6 symmetry, and collectively joined to reflect the 5-10 symmetry of the icosahedron. Each circle is a uniquely different aspect of unity.  Every small decision in folding was circumscribed by previous actions. There is nothing arbitrary, and yet it has none of the regularity and sameness of formulation that is so often seen in generic geometric models.


Having finished the above model I started playing with the icosahedron as an open form (16 solid triangles with 4 open planes.) Options are not possible with the traditional icosahedron net, since this net is  structurally principled it opens endless design possibilities. I wanted to keep to the same process going but in a different direction. By using the same folded units in the above model, with reforming variations, they revealed different optional fits to the configuration of the open icosahedron. The option taken shows a tetrahedron arrangement extending beyond the icosahedron in a more open form. This combines both 3-6 and 5-10 symmetry, proportionally balanced in a way not obvious in the above model.






Two views of this model using 8 paper plate circles ; 4 open tetrahedra form the inner icosahedron and 4 circles form the individual tetrahedra vertex locations.


It is extraordinary to see over years of folding circles how many varied reconfiguration can come from reforming the same 3-6 folded triangle grid. When everything is folded from the same three-diameter grid everything is interrelated and inter-transformable in ways that are unique to folding circles. This means any configuration can be flattened to the circle and reformed into any of number of other units, recombined and joined into a variety of different symmetries and systems without adding any new creases. Once the grid matrix is folded into the circle there are an infinite number of unique possibilities for reforming and joining them. All this is possible because it is in the circle to begin with; all is revealed through keeping an eye to alignment in folding and reforming. No tool in the design world comes even close to the possibilities that come from folding circles.






Two view above is another exploration using the open icosahedron form reconfigured from only 4 paper plate, folded to the same 3-6 grid. The circles are reformed so the four vertex locations of the tetrahedron extend into forming a centralized inside open icosahedron, revealing that the two symmetries are combined in the single tetrahedron/icosahedron pattern. The open icosahedron form is a variation of four open tetrahedra. This reflects back to the tetrahedron as primary structural pattern. The four remaining regular polyhedra are patterned formations in different symmetries of the tetrahedron opened and joined in multiples. This model can function as a unit in a variety of larger systems through small design variations of form changes.

We have gone from using 51 to 8 and now 4 circles. These models went through the same process, all folded to the same pattern, revealing the same symmetries arranged to different forms where each individual system requires a given number of circles to fulfill a uniquely designed expression.


These models can not be made using traditional methods without a preconception of design and a plan to instruct the assembly of each part which would be extremely labor intensive, time consuming, with a lot of frustration and to little purpose. These were revealed in process by following what developed from the specific forming of pattern down to individual designing of elements, as revealed, each in turn, giving expression to that pattern. This can only happen with folding circles. What is in the circle is there for anyone that will take the time to find out.







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Bradford Hansen-Smith

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