Arabesque is a set of magnetic wooden gears that were specially crafted. The gear’s unique shapes, and the patterns are designed to mimic the tile work in Islamic countries. Islamic artwork often centers around symmetry, so the line art on the gears sticks to a clear symmetrical design. The gears are minimally colored, as well as the branding, in order to place emphasis on the patterns, and the simplicity of the line work.

I created this concept in an entrepreneurial course called The Hatchery. I initially wanted to create regular gears, but I found these beautiful images of tile patterns, and these really cool organic gears that totally defied normal gear shapes. There was a tutorial on how to create unique, organically shaped gears so I thought it would be fun to try and create gears that looked like these beautiful tiles. I also loved the idea of basing the tiles off of islamic tile artwork, so I used that for the base design for my pattern artwork. As for materials, we have a laser cutting tool Tyler School of Art, so wood was an easy and beautiful material for me to use.

First, I used illustrator to create a vector shape of the initial tile design I wanted to create. I took this shape into photoshop, and used a set of photoshop actions to use the main shape as a template for crafting the next tile design. The main shape and the circle would both turn, and the main shape would systematically cut out sections of the circle, leaving me with a shape that would be able to work like gears. Then, I took both of these shapes back into illustrator, and designed the inner artwork patterns. I took these vector shapes down to the laser cutting lab, and they cut the designs out of a piece of maple wood. After this I used a magnet and two pieces of matte board to create the inner piece of the gear. This enabled the gear to be magnetic and rotatable on magnetic surfaces such as fridges and lockers.

People enjoyed this project, and loved the idea of unique gears. I learned a lot about doing a project on product design, and how to market a piece. I also learned a bit about Islamic tile artwork, and the beauty of their patterning. I really enjoyed using my hands to create these pieces too, instead of being on the computer all the time.

Cassandra Reffner

I am a Print and Interactive Designer from the Tyler School of Art. I love all forms of graphic design, and I am always looking to learn more about this field. I especially love information design, packaging design, product design, and interactive design. However, I am more passionate about the research that goes into my work, and using that data and information to mold and create a visual story. When I am not busy with design work, I am either reading a book, pursuing the art of building my home library, or researching for my next travel adventure. I am also a connoisseur of the finer things in life—tea and ginger beer.