The Hexagon – A Design Building Block

A version of the six-sided figure called the hexagon crosses my view so often these days. A basic form in minerals, it is there in the crystal specimen on the shelf. A living structure created by bees; it patterns the lid of my honey jar. A hexagon cluster in a logo represents interfacing functions in office design. A graphic is showing the various ideas that build a mental construct in a report. It’s an ancient quilt pattern in a book on folk art.

How curious that it embodies space-age technology and honey in its natural state. Is that why the hexagon works so well to pattern a surface for contemporary interior design?

Sing Courtesy of Rubelli and Lois Macaulay

Rubelli, the Venetian luxury textile house known for re-invention, uses roughed-up shading to blend two colours into a superb medium-scale honeycomb pattern, woven on a traditional jacquard loom. A low luster satin in high thread count polyester yarn, it falls beautifully for draperies and makes easy care upholstery for dining chairs. Twenty vibrant colour variations practically guarantee a perfectly matched accent pillow. Designer access from Theo Décor.

Manipur runners, Courtesy of Designers Guild

Christian Lacroix carves the honeycomb through soft wool carpet. The medium-large scale feels contemporary. The hall runners are especially effective in both harmonious modern homes and pop culture design schemes thanks to a seven-colour range that goes from neutral to daring.

Manipur Cushions, Courtesy of Designers Guild

Designers Guild offers a companion fabric, a glossy velvet with embroidered gold lines to define the polygons. Shining glamour for a bold young design story.

Here Lacroix deconstructs hexagons and another interlocking graphic pattern, allows glimpses of a marble Venus and adds dobs of colour. The result is a spectacular circular rug, Grand Tour Tomette, that reminds me of a favorite Robert Rauschenberg painting.

Bambu wall sconce, Courtesy of Bella Figura Lighting; Showroom shot Courtesy of Lois Macaulay

The Bella Figura wall sconce at Primavera Interior Furnishings is a standout! Warm gold gilding covers areas of the clear sculpted glass in order to shield the bulbs, preventing glare. I love the interspersing of see-through and solid. What is it about gold and honeycomb that makes such a satisfying combination?

Courtesy of Super Limao Studio

From the studio of Super Limao, Sao Paulo, Brazil, the combination of transparent and opaque hexagons makes a striking surface and an effective product showcase in this commercial building. You can discover scores of examples of this shape in architecture with a quick search.

Sophie Coryndon, Courtesy of Todd Merrill Studio

Sophie Coryndon, sensitive to the peril of bees, was inspired to use sheets of real beeswax for her lost wax castings. Traditionally, in this method, wax is sculpted into a figure, encased in clay, heated so the wax melts out, then molten material is poured in. To use wax in nature’s form for this technique is refreshing and authentic. I featured Sophie Coryndon’s mirrors in the New Maximalism post. Her remarkable Nimbus wall sculpture of cast beeswax, lavishly finished with 23.5 carat gold, is at Todd Merrill Studio, New York.

See Also

Image Courtesy of Concordia University

Hexagons are everywhere right now as a visual representation of health sciences. Witness the header for that department at Concordia University.

Recycle symbol designed by Gary Anderson
How often we see the recycle symbol without really looking at it. Look again, it’s a hexagon!

I took this tangential review of Honeycombs in design as they are becoming ubiquitous and the cultural reasons seem important.

View Comments (2)
  • The carpets and pillows are stunning and visually stimulating, Lois. The sconces are quite unique and so beautiful. The honeycomb pattern is definitely a mainstay in our human patterning. The hidden chambers in the dome of the Pantheon in Rome are an early example of a honeycomb structure that was built around 126 A.D. This structure is still the world’s largest un-reinforced concrete dome built to date! You have your finger on the pulse of today’s design’s trends and their wonderful history. Thank you Lois!

  • The Pantheon dome is a wonderful example! Thank you for pointing it out Carmela. The technology involved in the slow gradations from large to small hexagons carried out 1,895 years ago is impressive and humbling!

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