Organic design is centered around using nature as your biggest inspiration. It has been around since humans first began making tools, as early humans were working with the forms that nature provided them. Organic design saw a resurgence in the 1930’s through the works of Frank Lloyd Wright(2). He wanted his work to “create harmony between people and nature and regarded architecture as a means of achieving a perfect balance between the man made and natural worlds.”(2) His work was just the beginning of what organic design could become. Although he may not have used smooth curves and organic forms, he saw the potential in bringing nature into his work. The beauty of organic design is that it is not limited by its medium. This aesthetic can be applied to architecture, furniture design, product design, typography and art.
Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright(3)
As modern organic design evolved from Frank Lloyd Wright, its definition broadened. It was not just about achieving harmony between people and nature, but also incorporating natural forms and materials into design. “It often imitates naturally occurring structures such as: cellular, netted, skeletal or crystalline. It leaves behind classical heavy weight-bearing structures and adopts constructions that seem to be more elastic and free. Recurrent methods include flowing lines and soft shapes, asymmetrical construction, plastic volumes and dynamic forms. “(1). This aesthetic was quickly noticed and began to attract attention. Since humans regard nature as beautiful, we tend to think the same of forms and materials that imitate nature.
Voronoi Shelf by Marc Newson(6)
Alvar Aalto, a Finnish designer and Architect, was also applying organic design aesthetic to his work in the 1930’s and 1940’s. His process considered the structural qualities of his material choices(6). Instead of working against his materials, he used them to their advantage. Alvar’s work is what I believe today’s organic design draws a lot of inspiration from.
Alvar Aalto Furniture(4)
As our tools and processes evolved, designers, engineer’s and artists are now able to work with more and more complex forms and materials. This has opened up endless possibilities as to what organic design can. Below is an example of Jang Yong Sun’s work. He has created harmony between nature, people, and technology. I believe this is the next phase in organic design.
Sculpture by Jang Yong Sun(5)