August 1, 2006
Geometry Is the New Blob
Angled, faceted, and folded products emerge as the latest design trend.
Patterned decorative surfaces have been a popular tendency in design culture for the past few years, and the 18th annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair, in New York, witnessed a coalescence of structured and geometrical forms as the latest manifestation of this trend, visible in everything from seating and wall coverings to office buildings. Take the triangulated panels of Foster & Partners’s Hearst building, in New York City, and Jakob + MacFarlane’s faceted sofa for Sawaya & Moroni. Both are readily identified by a highly structured pattern of origami-like folding and unfolding. Umbra’s Penta chair, made up of facets sewn in leather, is cut and shaped like a precious stone, “revealing a different perception depending on the viewer’s standing point,” according to designer René Barba. Even designers working in flat surfaces are picking up on this motif: Nama Rococo’s Random Geometry and Erica Wakerly’s Angles are two mathematically inspired wallpapers that stood out at this year’s fair. Not since the utopian visions of Bucky Fuller has such a sampling of geodesic geometries unfolded before our eyes. And if you’re wary of structural ideas, be very afraid: architectural firms like Zaha Hadid Architects, Asymptote, and Greg Lynn Form are starting to apply digital technologies to master plans, producing a kind of “parametric urbanism” whose contextual variations of individual forms may soon begin to dominate the landscape.