Physical Phenomena and the World of Design


There are certain unwavering fundamental laws controlling the universe, affecting both the living and non-living equally; these are known as the "Laws of Physics". Everything in the universe was created millions of years ago. Since Ancient Times, all the different civilizations in most regions of the globe have been observing the natural phenomena that contributed greatly to shaping their views and beliefs. Some even regarded these phenomena as deities, drawing and sculpting them in manuscripts and muriels. With scientific and technological advancement, scientists have been able to explain a great number of these phenomena, while some are still mysteries that scientists continue to work on resolving.

A natural phenomenon is anything beyond Man's power; meaning that no human can achieve or make it occur. Some of these phenomena are good for us, such as rain and snow; but some can be destructive, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and volcanoes. As natural phenomena are always occurring and continually recurring, they do need proof; they have also been known since the dawn of time. As a matter of fact, ancient people were so stunned by them, they documented them in their scriptures and sketched them on the walls of caves and temples; some even glorified and worshipped them, often offering them sacrifices. Many natural phenomena can be described using the Physical Laws of Matter and Energy; these are physical phenomena.

Many experiments were conducted to reach visual models for the relationship between natural phenomena when they interact or collide in response to natural forces. As a result, exploring how they are formed has become a new approach and method in design, becoming a modern trend for designers today. Advanced digital designs have evolved in the fields of architecture and design, based on inspiration from natural phenomena.

A Cloud-Like Foam Installation By Kohei Nawa

As we are accustomed to live with tools and machines that allow us access to endless information, designers no longer only pursue new methods and languages, but also graphs, codes, and software that transforms data and variables into unique shapes. Thus, they have designed fluid and flexible buildings where everything is constantly changing. Designers have redirected their imagination and technical thought towards spacial structure, relying on a new approach inspired by spacial fluidity and flexibility. The source of inspiration in the modern digital design arises from the complexity of natural phenomena and the organic composition.

Among the endless wonders of this universe are the phenomena found in seas, oceans, rivers, and all that is fluid on the surface of Earth. Other wonders can be observed in weather phenomena, including wind power, weather turbulence, climate, overcast, and clouds. All mentioned examples are strong sources of inspiration for designers; they are dynamic sources in digital space, where fluids act vividly and dynamically.

Breaking Wave

There are amazing details, such as the patterns seen in turbulences, waves, vertigoes, and wind spirals that affect the air, which in turn increase the intensity of the ever-changing waves, as well as the layers of clouds, air, earth, and oceans, where interesting and complex phenomena take place. All these natural and physical phenomena are a vital and inspirational source for designers, affecting their work in terms of shape, color, movement, and many other variables. Designers in the digital age are capable through software and technological tools to use inspiration from these phenomena, studying the changes and deformations that occur in them, from a static state to a fluidly movable state of designing.


Adapting from natural phenomena is fundamental in physics, and lately, both designers and researchers are invested in simulating the flow of fluids, the forces of gravity, photo and optical phenomena in design, producing innovative creations.

Greg Lynn, Animate Form, 1999.
Niels Martin Larsen, Generative Algorithmic Techniques for Architectural Design, 2012.

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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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