Monday, March 26, 2012

Oh, Bee Hive!

Spring is a-busting out all over with blossoms and blooms! The birds are belting out ballads building to a crescendo, and speaking of birds, I think of the bees.  I do hope that the bees are a-buzzing, what with the strange depletion lately of their pollinating population.

How did bees get the pre-programmed idea that the hexagon would be the perfect solution for their hives? Ah, that we could come up with such an elegant solution for our homes! These exceedingly strong structures are masterpieces in engineering that make the most efficient use of space and labor expended. How amazing, that the mathematically optimal solutions are always found in nature, yet we humans continue to struggle to come up with just the right equation.

As always, we return to geometry in our understanding and discipline in art and design.

wild bee hives 

 Austin Powers had it right when he exclaimed, "Oh behave!"

"BEEHIVE" ceiling lamp A331
Alvar Aalto

The natural beehive form inspired Aalto to create this modernist ceiling lamp from back in the day of "Mad Men" design. 

In relation to this subject, though a human invention, I was inspired to fashion a lamp finial from a honey dipper.  I've seen this form used on cabinet pulls, vases, etc.

Everywhere we look, we can find honeycomb/hexagon inspiration.

We see it in numerous shelf designs to stash and store your stuff.

The honeycomb rug pattern adds design interest in its small repetitions of the hexagon shape, providing structure in an open and amorphous interior design.

Janet Lofquist
corten steel
Dedicated September 11, 2009

This sculpture was erected at a Metrolink station nearby my house. Inspired by the idea of community spirit in rebuilding the neighborhood, the artist thought of honeycombs and the bee colony's cooperative efforts in building and maintaining their hives. It is an appropriate symbol for the regeneration of the neighborhood and is very pedestrian friendly.  Frequently children run around it, peer at one another through the cells, and even crawl through the cells.  

Every time I walk or drive by, I think to myself, "Oh, honey!"  I like that the bees have had such a visual impact on our community.  Let us hope that many more hives will prosper in their own livelihood as well!  Buzz on!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Star Struck

Oh, if only my math teacher could have been Donald Duck! Unfortunately, back in the day, I was put in the corner with a dunce hat for all the teaching that didn't crack open my cranium. Nowadays, in schools you'll have courses that blend and overlap as recent teaching strategies have recognized that not everyone learns in exactly the same way. In my previous blog, I wrote about how integral math is to art and design.  How would music be as we know it without mathematics?  Oh, to have had art and music in my math class; that would have been heaven! Don't be square and check out this link and see what Donald Duck has to say about the great adventures that can be had in Math Magic Land.  You won't regret it! Around about the 7 minute mark you will find a nice explanation of the Golden Rectangle, but I recommend that when you have the time to view it in its entirety. 

Geodesic Terrarium
Glass with bronze finish aluminum
Restoration Hardware

As a former art teacher, I was always dismayed by students who claimed that "they couldn't draw a straight line."  What is a geodesic dome but a network of straight lines?  These were generally left brain individuals who at an impressionable age were told they were "no good at art". I always tried to dispel that destructive belief and sow seeds of inspiration that we are all capable of artistic creations on many levels and in many ways.  

polished stainless steel
Restoration Hardware

The polyhedron is a geometric solid in three dimensions with flat faces and straight edges.  This shape has fascinated mankind since antiquity, though it fell out of favor in the middle ages. Revived once more in the Renaissance, interest since then has not flagged.  I like throwing these up on a bookcase or tucked in a corner for a little intellectual stimulation and titillation.

Raimond Lamp by Raimond Puts
stainless 'spring steel"
distributed by B & B Italia/Moooi

Oh those Dutch!  Always ahead of the design game, definitely in outer space while the rest of us mortals muddle around on the ground. This chandelier is a perfect recipe composed of mathematical ingredients and lit by tiny LED lights.  Puts lives on a houseboat with his painter wife in Amsterdam.  He is a self-taught designer, and at the ripe age of 70 (yes!) presented this light at the 2009 Milan furniture fair.  It was the star of the show.  He says, "My thoughts are in measurements.  Before I start anything I need to produce precise drawings."  That's always been my inclination when starting an interior design project. I like to measure everything and then start adding, multiplying, dividing and subtracting. I no longer believe that I'm "no good at math" - I just didn't have the right teacher!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Time Out

Have you ever seen a terrible twos tantrum?  This design duplication approach may stultify and stupefy your interiors.  Classicism is all about balance, but when is two too many?  When does double dipping doom your domicile?  Sure, it seems to simplify the project in filling the space, but what would you say at the end of a long day?  Are you going to have a temper tantrum?

Classic example of the terrible twos - 

Yes, you are confused and overwhelmed about what to do with the space. But you need checks and balances.  You need to channel your energies in an orderly and civilized direction.  But disciplining the decor only by doubling the digits?  Might cause a total melt-down.  

More twosies in tandem

It is imperative to remain calm and perhaps take something away. A time out might be in order.  Restraint is a key word. Don't do two much! You don't want the Design Police on your doorstep! Perhaps better to foster the inevitable freedom and independence that your budding creation requires.

Atrium at Las Tejas, a house in Santa Barbara, California 
John Saladino

Saladino is a master of asymmetry with classical references.  Do you see here how the negative spaces are equally as important as the positive spaces? Everything is carefully considered in terms of its proportions.  There is a mathematical genius at play here and the result is beautiful.

Apartment in New York
Vicente Wolf

Wolf demonstrates an understanding of how it all adds up by multiplication of a good thing. He's got onesies, twosies, and threesies, etc. going on here. And by varying the subtleties of texture in your multiples, you can power your interior with a knock out punch!

Dining room

How much do you duplicate shapes?  How do you balance the quantity of color?  Is there a ratio rule?  I think that for artists, it is more intuitive than learned.  Clodagh utilizes the ancient principles of feng shui in her designs as a guide to perfect aesthetics.

Kitchen and dining area, 2005
Terry Hunziker

The beauty is in the balance. This design could likely be dissected into never-ending sections of a golden rectangle.

Golden Rectangle
The Parthenon - Temple dedicated to the goddess Athena

Guest house in Dallas, Texas
Andree Putman

This design demonstrates higher mathematics and physics. Putman carves through the space by architect Bill Booziotis fearlessly demonstrating what's what. Although devoid of architectural features of classical antiquity such as columns and capitals, the design emphasis is all about geometry. I think the Greeks and Romans would feel right at home!

Fibonacci spiral

Onesies, twosies, and threesies, etc. in perfect harmony.  No more tantrums!