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For my graduate thesis project, I wanted to focus on elements of Eastern visual culture. I’m originally from Iran and have been working in the United States for five years. I framed my thesis project around this as a personal interest of mine and to connect my work with my heritage as an Iranian American designer.
During my research process where I studied and formally investigated Eastern visual motifs, I focused on Persian geometric patterns. They are structured and rooted in mathematics, which shares similar principles in Western graphic design practices, specifically the nature of grids.
A unique yet, a universal form emerged from this research, a shape consisting of eight square units. To understand this form and its gestures I discovered four iconic structures in different cities of Iran to show how this pattern has been thriving in the physical landscape. How can this unit influence or inspire a new visual language when it reacts to western visual language?
This pattern, although it is only a simple two-dimensional shape, can also appear three-dimensional. To amplify the three-dimensional aspect of this shape, I used a monochromatic color approach. Using subtle tonal variations within the pattern, it helped highlight all the possible iterations that could be created based on the initial pattern. To generate a wide array of permutations of this, Processing was a tool I made use of to help output these instances.
100 shapes were generated, 100 is a sacred number in Iran. Using the shapes, I was able to explore the possibility of generating typography within the forms.
A carpet was digitally woven with hidden messages embedded into the pattern. “We are part of the whole” is inscribed into the carpet, a piece of text quoted from Saadi Shirazi, a 12th-century Persian poet.
To extend the use of this visual language I explored environmental applications of the pattern, not unlike how patterns were embedded in architecture. As a proof of concept, the pattern was applied digitally to both ArtCenter College of Design and downtown Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall. For the former, ArtCenter’s south campus building is situated next to a metro train that runs by, the pattern is then animated each time a train travels past the campus. For the latter, I imagined the Tehran Symphony Orchestra is having a performance of one of Philip Glass’ piece named Glassworks. The facade of the Walt Disney Concert Hall is activated with an animation mapped to its surface generated from these pattern languages.