Nature provided an antidote to historicism and an opportunity for formal abstraction in the late 19th century; a model for integrated "organic" living in the period after World War II; and a paradigm of optimal use of materials in more recent times. On my own turf, at the Museum of Modern Art, some particularly interesting interpretations applied by curators include those formulated by Eliot Noyes, who in 1941 saw organic design as a beneficial and profound integration of the machine within human life—organic as harmonious, balanced and efficient. Significant contributions also came from Serge Chermayeff and René d'Harnoncourt, who in 1944 wrote: "Since it is the aim of organic design [seen as organic integration of function, technology and form] to provide people with better tools for living, its application presupposes an attitude of responsibility towards society sustained by a professional code of ethics comparable to those of science and medicine."
New York-based architects Ben Aranda and Chris Lasch published an influential book in 2006 titled Tooling, which is organised around seven algorithmic techniques: spiralling, packing, weaving, blending, cracking, flocking and tiling. They explain: "While each of these algorithms can be used to describe and simulate certain natural phenomena in the world—such as the way a spiralling rule can simulate a hurricane—this book is invested in turning these rules into logics for construction." Aranda and Lasch go on to state that "all algorithmic techniques in Tooling are presented alongside 1) a recipe, 2) shapes made by that recipe, 3) a project that uses that recipe within an architectural context, and finally, 4) programmatic computer code".
Contemporary organic design encompasses the interpretation of nature’s economical frameworks in the attempt to learn not only how to build better, but also how to counter the depletion of natural resources worldwide.
Critic and curator, MoMA