News Home & Design These Patterned Sculptures Are Created by Human Artists and Machine Algorithms Inspired by patterns found in nature and Islamic art, these intricate artworks are a combination of modern art, design and technology. By Kimberley Mok Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who covered architecture and the arts for Treehugger starting in 2007. our editorial process Twitter Twitter Kimberley Mok Published February 5, 2021 05:07PM EST Ibbini Studio Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices Nature is defined by patterns. Whether it's in the mesmerizing bursts of mathematically inclined beauty seen in the head of a sunflower, the fractal fury of an electrical current, or the mysterious spinning of a spider's web, patterns are all around us, and it's part of the reason why nature inspires so much awe. Maybe that's why spending time to connect with nature can be so healing: even if things look or feel chaotic in our environment, it's somehow reassuring to know that there is some kind of underlying order to it. Not surprisingly, artists and other creative makers are often inspired by the geometric patterns found in nature, as seen in the various decorative traditions throughout history. But in this modern day and age when humans are merging handmade crafts with machine automation, the application of pattern in such a context can have intriguing results indeed. One example of this creative blend between human and machine are these fascinating new laser-cut artworks by Ibbini Studio (previously). Based out of Abu Dhabi, United Emirates, the studio is currently headed by visual artist and designer Julia Ibbini, and computer scientist Stephane Noyer, who have been collaborating since 2017. Ibbini Studio The studio's latest collection is called Symbio Vessels, which focuses on the three-dimensional possibilities of patterns. On the flat, two-dimensional plane, there is also an experimental play with patterning, but that dynamism is extended beyond as these sheets of patterns are stacked up, one upon the other, in order to build a tangible, extruded structure out of them. As the studio explains: "We wanted to explore the notion of a traditional vessel (typically intended to be utilitarian and simple) and augment and contrast that by introducing abstract structural modifications, complexity and detail achievable through algorithms and computational geometry. We also sought to push the boundaries of possibilities in terms of medium and chose to experiment in paper with its beautiful, tactile, delicate qualities." As seen in Ibbini's previous paper cut works, the team's creative practice involves exploring different ways in how modern design, art, and technology intersect, and are deeply inspired by the rich geometric traditions of Islamic art and architecture. Ibbini Studio With the Symbio Vessels, the duo first draw patterns by hand, which are then refined with a suite of digital design tools. These are then tweaked with an interactive parametric design tool, where the shapes of the curves are further refined with an in-built feedback process. Ibbini Studio The resulting digital files are then fed into a laser cutter, which can cut the hundreds of sheets of thick, archival paper or wood veneers with lasers – more accurately and efficiently than can be done by hand. See the studio's video of how it's done: But it doesn't end there. Surprisingly, these machine-zapped sheets are then cleaned out by hand using a scalpel, painstakingly assembled, stacked and glued manually. Any colors in the series are painted on by hand, in addition to other delightful details like crystals or mother of pearl accents. Ibbini Studio According to the team, some of these pieces can take up to six months to complete – a true labor of love, made possible by machine, say Ibbini and Noyer: "The final pieces display this idea of contrasts and collaboration. Organic hand drawn elements, arranged in a rigid structured pattern around a form developed using algorithmic calculations, yet built by hand, produce a whole that is highly complex, detailed, precise - but organic and imperfect at the same time. It is the flaws which come with the human hand that produce the beautiful end result." Ibbini Studio The series represents a sublime, and indeed symbiotic partnership between the organic and the inorganic, the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional. The illusory solidity of the three-dimensional form is shattered when one looks at it from another angle, revealing the riveting play of patterns that seem to go on and on – echoing the infinite play of pattern in nature itself. To see more, visit Ibbini Studio, and on Facebook and Instagram.