Beauty and Geometric Art

Within Istanbul there is so much design and beauty. When I first arrived, I fell in love with the geometric design patterns. So when I saw an advert for a workshop regarding Islamic Geometric Design (IGD), I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to learn more about this form of art.

Eric Broug, the instructor, is quite an interesting person in and of himself. He is Dutch and when he was at University, he studied Middle Eastern politics. He realized it wasn’t his passion, quit, worked in a bookshop, and then started studying IGD. Now he lives in England with his family and among other things, runs the School of Islamic Geometric Design.  Cool and inspiring, right?

It would be impossible for me to talk about the entire workshop and describe all of the beautiful buildings and images throughout the Middle East that Broug showed us. But I will attempt to try and bullet point/summarize the little that I know of IGD – we did not use any compasses. Only rulers and templates. Please keep in mind that this was in introductory course so the points below are from a beginner:

  • Basically, there isn’t much written history of IGD so we can only guess the importance and meanings of the different designs
  • IGD combines creativity, history, and science (I think math as well)
  • There are three popular types: fourfold, sixfold, and fivefold
    • fourfold and sixfold are the most common
    • fivefold (lesson common, more challenging, more freedom for experimentation)
  • To identify which type, count the petals grouped around a star pattern
  • IGD is basically straight lines and circles on grids that repeat, like a tessellation
  • These lines and circles vary greatly to generate unique designs
  • The grid allows for proportion and freedom to ‘change the ingredients’ inside the shape
    • Grids are essential to IGD (when you find the grid on a design, it is like you are ‘going behind the scenes’)

I hope you learned a little about Islamic Geometric Design. For me, I know that it will help me to better appreciate the beauty of the city that I love so very much.


  1. Another awesome post! So informative and inspiring :). I appreciate your layout, too, as I feel like I got to take a little bit of the class with you, which is super cool. Thank you, Claire!

  2. Susan Wachowiak

    So very interesting! And really the art is math based. I am working on a Great Courses “How to Draw” class with Professor David Brody of the University of Washington and we are doing similar activities! Really clarifies how “art” works!!!!!!

  3. Jude Pidgeon

    Sounds interesting. Islamic designs are beautiful. Keep us posted.

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