• 01.31.17

These Mesmerizing Biomimetic Sculptures Look Like They’re Growing As You Watch

Relax for a second and appreciate the complexities of physics and nature that make this trick work.

These Mesmerizing Biomimetic Sculptures Look Like They’re Growing As You Watch

With a trick of the light, John Edmark’s mesmerizing sculptures–based on the same spiraling geometry found in pinecones and sunflowers–look like they’re alive.


In many plants, leaves grow at what’s called the “golden angle,” with each leaf popping out 137.5 degrees after the next. After studying plant geometry for years as part of his work, Edmark realized that the pattern lends itself to animation.

“I stumbled upon it as part of my process of just wanting to describe the geometry of those forms,” he says. Edmark 3D-prints each sculpture in his Bloom series using the same pattern. When the sculpture spins on a turntable, with a strobe light flashing each time the art rotates 137.5 degrees, it looks like it’s growing.

“Particularly in an increasingly virtual world, to see something happening that’s physical and in some sense real moving before your eyes—something that that is not actually live but acts alive–I think that it’s just very surprising,” he says. “I think we naturally respond to things that move with an assumption that they are in a sense alive.”

He’s continuing to make more sculptures in the series, each demonstrating a different manifestation of the technique. “It’s fundamentally the same underlying geometry that’s driving it all,” he says.

Here are the DIY instructions if you’d like to try making one of the sculptures yourself.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.