Shapes and forms matter. In the pattern-seeking modules of the human brain, shapes and forms communicate; what they communicate to you will be a product of the culture and territory in which you were formed. For some reason culture is particularly when shapes are combined into more complex configurations. The one exception is organic forms, especially plants. Their symbolism tends to be more universal as they are seen to be pleasing and comforting by all. To us, a plant's asymmetry conveys spontaneity. The history of plants being used in the sculptural forms and motifs of many traditions goes back eons. These motifs were seen as a way of expressing everything from long life, healing, renewal, to fertility, strength and longevity. Perhaps for their medicinal as well as poisonous characteristic––life giving and life ending––plants supernatural project supernatural qualities in traditional art like magic, prophecy, and all seeing also charge traditional plant symbolisms in art.
Organic forms can also have a transformative role in the context of a design. As in the Sebastian Errazuriz Tree Table below, the mix of the organic with the industrial in the material and shape of the branch table base has the effect of softening the industrial-ness of glass.
Korean designer Chul An Kwak's eschews the static. He found inspiration in the movement of a running horse but knew he wouldn't get there with straight planar legs and right angles. Through his use of sculpted wood, the designer wanted to convey not just dynamic motion but dynamic emotion. The table have feeling of unresolved tension, as if it trying to escape from the room, a horse galloping to freedom.
Below, another Korean, artist MyeongBeom Kim takes the concept to the extreme, in the case of the carved out chair from the tree he plays with industrializing the chair's organic source material, and in the urinal piece below that, nature beautifully blooms from the abundance of human waste. Below Kim's work, nature—either as a single element or as a faux jungle—projects a sense of vigor and hope into a stark hardscape or an otherwise barren vista.
Below, Kim may be commenting on the diminishing natural environment, our profligate use of water, and unsustainable production of waste.
Above, the accidental forest; below, the domestic micro-jungle; and below next, an integration of the urban with what it replaced.
A forest appears to be grow from the model's head like Athena out of the forehead of Zeus. Below, nature manipulated by nature as if they were bespoke creations made to order. At bottom: The building's glass gives back some of the sky.