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Style from Nature
Alex Steffen, 6 Nov 03

Organic Essentialism. Zoomorphism. Neo-organicism. Blobjects. Petal Design. Biomorphism. Fibonacci Style. Tech Nouveau. Call it what you will, it's hot: fashion and interior design inspired by nature's patterns and flows.

As this NYT article Going With the Flow, Tech Nouveau Arrives describes, the new fashion is the child of two parents: an increasing admiration for the underlying forms of nature (of the sort that D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson teased out earlier in the century in his classic On Growth and Form, but also "new sides of nature — sometimes microscopic, subatomic, cellular, even theoretical") and the creation of new materials which are stronger, more flexible and more able to hold shapes. And it's spreading fast:

"There is a new, witty nouveau afoot, from the Vallo watering can by Monika Mulder at Ikea, which looks like a stork, to the coffee and tea set by Greg Lynn for Alessi, which opens like a clove of garlic. Tord Boontje's chandeliers for Swarovski look like clouds of slender branches surrounding a light. A great deal of building in Britain has biomorphic roots, for instance, Snohetta's whale-shape museum addition planned for Margate, Foster & Partners' Swiss Re sea sponge building going up in London and Ushida Findlay's proposal to build a starfish-shape country manor house in Cheshire."

"The new shapes depend on high-tech materials and methods: injection molding, carbon fiber, computer modeling. New materials like carbon fiber, plastics and resins lend themselves to more flowing shapes than metal or wood. Computers that can render the flows of forces — the loads, thrusts and twists — allow designers to work with more dynamic forms."

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