Artificial Blooms: Digital Botanics Showcase the Fractals, Tessellations, and Repetitive Features of the Natural World
From tessellations to spirals and symmetry, the Cologne-based duo behind Shy Studio has been reproducing the mesmerizing patterns of the natural world through a series of lifelike botanics. Artificial Bloom is an ongoing project by Misha Shyukin and Hannes Hummel that features still-life florals and animated clips of petals slowly unfurling.
The digital renderings showcase the complexity of organic structures while also highlighting the fractals and endless intricacies inherent to nature’s designs. “We are only two artists, and when one of us had some spare time, we would pick a flower or plant from our Pinterest board as a base and start developing our own artistic interpretation of it,” Shyukin shares with Colossal. “It was fascinating to find that a lot of floral and plant structures follow certain mathematical rules, which we could replicate and apply to our own structures.”
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By day, Scott Reinhard designs graphics for The New York Times. Recently, he created a United States map detailing where city-dwellers fled during the pandemic and another showing how the Pantanal wetland in Brazil has transformed into a massive inferno. Incorporating an ever-growing swath of data, his daily tasks are connected to the fluctuations of news cycles.
But in his off-hours, the Brooklyn-based designer takes a broader look at the state of the nation. He merges vintage maps and contemporary elevation data, creating stunning digital works that flatten the differences of time and space into hybrid objects. While his graphics for The Times are rooted in the ever-changing present, his personal work is nestled within historical contexts.
Reinhard’s interest in data and map-generation grew while he was pursuing a master’s degree in graphic design at North Carolina State University, particularly during an introductory course centered around geographic information systems. “I basically became aware of all these cartography tools that I had no idea about. Because I wasn’t coming from that background, I was free to play around… and approach visualizing geographic data in new and interesting ways,” he says.
That experimental period spurred Reinhard’s ideas of fusing historical maps and contemporary land elevations, and he began exploring filtering, a cartographic method that calculates a theoretical sun and provides data about corresponding landscapes. “It’s pretty crude, but it really fascinated me that from a flat, black-and-white image, which is basically what elevation data looks like, you could interpolate this scene,” he shares, noting that he began to work with 3-D renderings around the same time. “That data that’s stored in a paper map can still be activated.”
Since 2019, Reinhard has refined his focus and shifted to larger series. “I’m still interested in these USGS (United States Geological Survey) maps as graphic objects and as really beautiful works of graphic design. What I’ve really been enjoying is to build these out,” he says. The more comprehensive collections have included studies of Alaskan maps from the 1950s, one series focused on the Oregon coast, and another considering south-central Indiana where he was raised.
A macro-view captures the intricacies and histories etched into the landscape of a region, showcasing glacial formations, seismic activity, and how a mountain range emerged during a period of years. “I realized once I started visualizing the landscape that, on a day-to-day standpoint when you look around you, you see elevation changes, but you don’t really see patterns. We’re just a little too small,” he says. Because USGS maps utilize coordinates, they also circumvent more political orientations found in documents outlining territories or other cordoned-off areas, offering an opportunity to correct false narratives that have been perpetuated by cartographic objects in the past. The historical maps hold additional information on trends and periods in design, which manifest in aesthetic choices like style and color.
Reinhard currently is working his way through producing a collection of USGS-recommended maps from the 1950s, a novel project that’s rooted in exploration and curiosity. “All maps are exaggerations, to some extent,” he says. “You can push and pull what the map says and what the map tells you.” Explore Reinhard’s extensive collection of digital works on Instagram and his site, where he also sells an array of prints.
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Waft this new scent for hints of wood, violet, and… musty paperback? Powell’s Books, the beloved independent shop in Portland, recently announced a limited-edition perfume that smells just like its seemingly endless rows of new and used titles. “This scent contains the lives of countless heroes and heroines. Apply to the pulse points when seeking sensory succor or a brush with immortality,” Powell’s says about the forthcoming release.
Termed an “Eau de bookstore,” the unisex fragrance was spurred by customers saying they missed the aroma of the shop during the ongoing pandemic. The packaging of Powell’s by Powell’s even resembles a bright red hardback that can sit inconspicuously on a shelf with other titles.
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Since 2017, the design studio Decor Kuznetsov and the Vlada Brusilovskaya Foundation have teamed up for CUBA BUBA, a project that transforms hospital rooms throughout Ukraine into sensory wonderlands for young patients. Complete with comfy seating, reading nooks, and even open-air chimes, each module is compact and intended for children to rest and relax as they undergo various treatments.
The group recently installed its sixth iteration, “CUBA BUBA SUNNY,” which features a shelved room full of greenery and sculptures. Suspended below the light is an ornately carved ceiling that shines a unique pattern onto the eclectic collection. To inspire play, an earlier design’s facade is comprised entirely of holes, allowing kids to wind rope throughout the structure into a vibrant web.
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Caring for pets has a lengthy list of physical and mental health benefits, and studies show that folks who aren’t quite ready to commit to a rambunctious pup can find similar solace in a marine pal. The aquatic enthusiast behind Foo the Flowerhorn recently released a video series documenting the DIY building process for a home ecosystem, in addition to capturing the organisms’ intrepid natures. Conveying thoughtful methods for balancing inter-species relationships, the tutorial is also an example of aquascaping, or the art of aquarium design (dive into the world of competitive aquascaping here).
Beginning with a 7.6-gallon aquarium, the video chronicles the assembly of a volcano-shaped rock formation, which serves as a filter despite being enveloped by algae, and a custom-built cover to keep the adventurous creatures inside. Every species is introduced to the ecosystem in a specific order to ensure their chances of survival. The plants, snails, Amano shrimp, and tetras are added early on, with the territorial Siamese Fighting Fish following after ten days. “Adding a betta into this mix is risky. He is a chirpy little fellow, and I’m a little worried about the shrimp, especially. He has tried to catch the tetras here and there but soon realized that there is absolutely no chance of him catching one,” the designer said. (via The Kids Should See This)
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A year since its opening, the snow-free ski hill and entertainment hub that sits above a waste-to-energy power plant in Copenhagen is fully open to outdoor enthusiasts. New aerial photographs from Hufton+Crow capture the rooftop complex Copenhill (previously) through a blanket of fog, revealing the now lush landscaping that lines hiking trails and visitors as they peer out over the surrounding water. The multi-use site, which is located at the Amager Resource Centre, even has the world’s tallest climbing wall, an 80-meter-high rock structure that scales the entirety of the building.
Copenhill is the project of Danish architectural firm BIG and is the highest outlook in the capital city. The new complex also boasts multi-faceted energy reuse, with the indoor plant converting waste into heat for residents’ homes, while the biodiverse hill outside absorbs heat, filters the air, and minimizes water runoff.
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