Tile Series

This project tracks the growth of a snowflake and projects it into three dimensions. During my initial research I was interested by the simplicity of the inaugural form, which is almost too small to be seen with the naked eye depending on the flake, and its journey towards a much larger and intricate form.

The characteristic geometry of a snowflake is complex and capable of a stunning range of variation, but it is also recognisable in an instant. Curiously, the growth process begins around a single nucleus, such as an airborne mote of dust; for this reason, the first stage of growth is somewhat amorphous. The crystal structure is not a function of the geometry of this seed. Instead, it is derived from the hidden geometry of water itself: in its solid state, each molecule consists of two hydrogen atoms arranged around a central oxygen atom to create an angle of 108°. These units form a series of interpenetrating hexagonal lattices with oxygen atoms at the vertices. As the crystal grows, it exhibits a fractal geometry that is derived from repeating a simple process over and over again. Such self-similar patterns are widely found in nature: examples include the branching patterns seen in trees, dendrites, and river deltas.

In this project, I simplified the underlying patterns in order to keep focus on the growth process. I chose to depict the drastic change from ice nucleus to snowflake in a simple design using folds and emphasising the dimensionality of the structure by pulling the flake out of the tile’s surface. I extracted the negative space from the surface while still keeping a plain frame not only to retain the periphery of the tile but, more importantly, to accent and scale the process of development and growth.

I later abstracted this form to create a clear, three dimensional flake.
A similar process was taken for a Neuron series of 3D tiles.