Medal design ideas – Interlocking

Another potential design for my medals, is having a series of medals which fit together when laid flat, with an image that transitions across the faces. This would potentially then allow for both sides of the medal to become interchangeable, with any medal in the series being able to be placed either side up, and/or in any order in the series. This brings together the front and reverse sides of the medal, giving them equal purpose and significance, with the ability to mirror or parralel itself. Meanwhile the edge will likely become of less significance, other than the form itself which allows for the medals to fit together.

flower pattern medals 1

The most simplistic version of this idea, of shapes which fit together interchangeably, is octagons. While squares are also possible, I feel like there is something in the nature of a square that makes it less appealing for a medal. Perhaps it it tied to the general notion of medals being round, or perhaps it is that the sequence would be entirely linear with the medals in a completely straight line. With the shape of the octogon, it allows you to create a linear sequence, but with a more fluid shape which adds to the idea of change and interchangeablity. I feel that perhaps people would be less likely to interact with a square and find it more intimidating as it comes with a more definite notion of being fixed in place.

While I do find octogons a very satisfying shape to look at, this is quite clearly the very surface when it comes to shapes which could potentially fit together. In fact, these do not even truly interlock in any way, with each medal being completely independent and moveable, rather than pieces which fit into each other like a jigsaw puzzle. However, this might be very difficult to execute in actuallity, having a set of complex (or at least semi complex) shapes which not only interlock or fit together, but can do so in any order. As far as I can tell, these shapes will either have to be extremely general (such as the octagon), or extremely complex to the point where they do not necessarily resemble anything in particular.

If this is the case, is the shape of the medal going to be distracting to the viewer, and take away from the message? Is it going to become more of a puzzle than a piece of interactive artwork? While it is true that it could potentially be both, I’m not sure I like the idea of the piece becoming puzzle like. I would much prefer it to be intuitive to interact with, and engaging without being challenging in its mechanics. While this might encourage people to engage with the medals and give them a reason to interact with them, pick them up, move them around, I feel that there is a strong potential that the play will draw too much focus from the viewer, and the main message of self reflection in the piece will be lost.

Another question with this design is whether or not the medals will have to be oriented in a particular direction (e.g north). This may well depend on the imagery used on the medal, some motifs may work at various angles, and others may not make any sense being viewed in any other direction to “up”. However if the image is made to be viewable at various different angles, this adds another layer of complexity, not only having the images fit together, in an interchangeable order, with both the front and the reverse sides, but then adding the idea of being able to turn each medal on its axis. I think this is most likely vastly overcomplicating things, and the design is ambitious enough to execute as it is, without adding these extra restrictions.

Not only this, but it is very difficult to talk in terms of design without having any clear motif to work with, and having to talk purely in the abstract. Hopefully once I settle on this it will then help to inform the design, but there is the question of whether the design should inform the motif or the motif inform the design. Should I try to settle on a motif by looking at whether it fits with this idea of being transitioning and interchangeable, or should I choose a motif first and have that inform the design and layout of the medals themselves? This is a difficult question to answer at the moment, but ideally when I am more clear on the aspect of motifs they can then reach a point of synergy where they are drawing from and informing each other.

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One Comment on “Medal design ideas – Interlocking”

  1. […] looking at the idea of interlocking medals, and in researching the work of M. C. Escher I stumbled on the term “tessellations”. A […]


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