Islamic Patterns Research
Computer generated Islamic patterns and several embellishment techniques for Islamic geometric designs
Our Islamic Patterns Research Project
Nomad Inception was born as a research project on Islamic patterns. We come from the world of information technology, and our goal was to automate the creation of Islamic patterns respecting all the rules of the age-old art form. We found that a few attempts had been made within the academic world to produce computational design tools to create patterns, but the results were affected by a common hindrance: they resembled Islamic patterns, but not always met the rules of the art form, and consisted mostly of small repetitive patterns.
After much study and research, we have devised a computer system that enables us to automate the creation of Islamic patterns respecting every rule of the age-old art form.
Large Islamic patterns
The technology created allows us to generate designs several orders of magnitude larger than the ones we have found on our trips or in available literature. Islamic patterns are most impressive when the design extends profusely without repeating obvious patterns. The visual effect is completely different when compared with rather small patterns tiled horizontally and vertically in order to cover an area larger than the actual pattern. When the human eye is able to identify a repeating pattern, the brain immediately decodes the puzzle and the impression of grandness and magnificence is suddenly lost. Large designs are mostly found on distinguished locations, such as major mosques or palaces. The reason is simple: few artisans in the world can produce large Islamic geometric designs without tilling patterns, presumably because of the complexity involved in the design phase and the level of difficulty affecting the implementation.
At Nomad Inception, we are able to produce designs much larger than any human is capable of. Not just larger, but several orders of magnitude larger. This means we have the ability to cover huge surfaces without repeating geometric patterns. The results are breathtaking.
Original Islamic patterns
Furthermore, we are able to produce original compositions, a rare feat for our times. We have produced a number of Islamic geometric designs for which we have found no parallel in existing works. It is pretty well known that the geometric designs existing in the Islamic world are copies of motifs revealed in past works, and that contemporary craftsmen base their work on a limited catalog of combinations.
Embellishment techniques for Islamic patterns
By designing Islamic patterns with computational design algorithms, we are able to apply interlace embellishments independently of the size of the composition, something very hard to attain via the traditional forms of design, as the process involves highly complex calculations. Interlace lines are infinite lines that run along the edges of the polygons forming the patterns and they comply with a very particular rule: they must travel alternately above and below each line crossed. They are regarded as a valued embellishment as they add to the complexity and intricacy of the geometric design. In small compositions or even large compositions with tilling patterns, interlace embellishments are common. But they are rarely seen in combinations of large motifs, as they are truly difficult to both design and produce.
A rarer form of embellishment is the double-star technique. This technique is produced intersecting interlace lines instead of allowing them to go above and below each other. This technique is simpler than interlaces as the rule adding the most complexity is discarded. However, the technique can be further complicated by adding interlaces to form a double-star embellishment. When this second set of lines intersect with each other (instead of interlacing with each other), then we have a quadruple-star embellishment. There is no theoretical limit to the number of sets of lines we can produce to embellish designs, but even quadruple-stars are hard to find in the heritage of Islamic Art.
The impact of our research
To the best of our knowledge, our technology and the capacity it offers to produce Islamic geometric designs is unequaled the world over.
Since we started this project, we have been exploring the implications of our findings, both in the arts and sciences realms. We believe our work on Islamic patterns may turn into a valuable contribution to the preservation and revival of this art form; it contributes new compositions and breathes life into the form of art by making it more accessible on modern digital environments. We are enthusiastic about the contribution our research may represent to the many geometric and mathematical studies conducted in the field.