The mysterious world of Islamic Art has long been fascinating to many, yet hardly explored. Its stylised geometries, arabesque patterning and highly intricate and complex designs look absolutely gorgeous. The medieval tilings in Islamic Art seem to extend on infinitely, usually resulting in phenomenal architectural feats that is difficult to replicate. The concept of Girih tiles may have existed a while ago, and mathematicians and physicists alike have been trying to crack these “codes”, or rather, mathematical systems by which these Islamic artists employed to create such elaborate designs. However, it was only very recently, in this twenty-first century, that physicist Peter Lu, from Harvard University, came to realize that there are just five very fundamental geometric tiles, adorned with special lines called Girih, that make for these patterns.
Lu named these five tiles after the system of “Girih” tiles, a Persian word with the meaning of knotting. It is truly amazing how medieval Islamic designers used such simple geometrical tiles to form beautiful and highly complexed architectural pieces, at least 500 years before Western mathematicians developed the concept.
I feel that this system of the Girih tiles is highly inspiring and greatly associated to graphic design. It is crucial that people learn about this concept and hence be able to replicate such beautiful design in a disappearing art.
Based on this system of tilings, my graphic design project deals with the channeling of information and knowledge of these in an understandable and educational package, showcasing these complicity in easy terms and do-it-yourself activities. At the end of the day, the reader will gain a deeper understanding of these tiles, allowing him to better appreciate this world of mysterious wonder and awe. “GIRIH: A Manual To The Medieval Islamic Art Tiling System” was hence born; a manual that educates the readers through a series activities, such that eventually, the reader himself gets a chance to piece together his own Girih pattern.
There are several activities within the book which allows the reader to interact and play with, getting more challenging as each stage is passed. This guide helps the reader to understand the Girih tiles in a step-by-step guidance, suitable for all ages.
GIRIH’s logo was designed by extracting a segment of the Girih tilings, meant to resemble the small letter “g”. It is a good representation of the complexity and affinity of the lines which are all linked to one another.
Futura was chosen as the typeface for the logotype, as it further enhances the meaning of its geometricity and uniformity, with its typeface design being based on geometric shapes. In this manner, it is just as how the Girih tiles worked, based on a set of rules and guidelines to build upon its system of creation. A tracking of +100 is used to aid in readability and depict elegance.
THE PACKAGE – The manual for Girih comes in a package containing a couple of components. The package allows for easy distribution and convenient storage of the things enclosed, such as some colour pencils, the manual and several loose activity sheets.
INFORMATION – In the manual, you will learn about what Girih is all about, aided with images and pictures from actual Islamic architecture found over the centuries to explain in great depth the idea behind these lines.
ACTIVITIES – Activities include colouring and matching; all of which ultimately help the reader create his own Girih images with puzzle pieces provided at the end of the book. The reader is encouraged to fix them together, then paste them down and fill them in with their own colours and details.