Fractals are intricate geometric structures created when patterns (or pieces of patterns) are altered and duplicated at ever-diminishing scales.  Besides having a tremendously important effect across a range of sciences, fractals make a stunning picture on your tablet. Even simple shapes can quickly grow complicated when they are altered again and again.  A close look can reveal endless variations of the same design theme.

Scientists use fractals to comprehend better rainfall trends, patterns formed by cloud and waves and the distribution of vegetation.

They have been called mathematics for the eye and emotions.  Others that have been overwhelmed by the beauty see the hand of God in fractals.

Naturally occurring fractals

Countless examples of fractals can be found in nature.  Plants, animals and even nonliving structures like rivers and rocks have designs that can be duplicated using mathematical laws.

nautilus shell
The nautilus shell’s spiral pattern is based on the duplication and alteration of a single curved rib.

The rib is the seed shape.  The succeeding ribs are duplicates of the seed shape that have each been altered in the same way, a process that is called iteration.  In the case of the above image, each rib has been rotated slightly, scaled-down and moved in a counterclockwise direction.

The leaf’s seed shape is a straight line.  Each iteration creates a duplicate line that branches from the first.  Each part of the vein of the leaf forms a part that is in some way similar to the whole.

Fractal design, according to promising research results, may help the stress response of the observer.  Stress reduction is of enormous benefit to society and their use by designers to influence mood and communicate balance and harmony in their designs.

Additional Reading

Design By Nature: Creating Layered, Lived-in Spaces Inspired by the Natural World

by Erica Tanov

Design by Nature book cover by Erica Tanov

Inspired by nature’s colors, textures, and patterns, design icon Erica Tanov uses her passion for textiles to create beautiful, timeless interiors that connect us to the natural world. Design by Nature incorporates simple motifs from nature into the home, with new and imaginative decorating ideas for an organic and bohemian style that mixes and layers rugs, pillows, throws, and drapery, and incorporates unique patterns and fabrics such as shibori, ikat, and jamdani.

Practical design and decorating tips enable you to incorporate patterns and motifs from both ordinary and unexpected landscape elements, as well as develop a keener eye for the beauty that surrounds you every day. With nature as inspiration, along with stunning photos from renowned photographer Ngoc Minh Ngo, Design by Nature offers an enduring and intuitive approach to design that transcends fleeting trends.

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