The Shaker Weave Box
Dimensions: 6 ¾” x 10 15/16” x 4.5”
Materials: Cherry, Brass
Finish: Boiled Linseed Oil
Interior: Two removable trays, each with 4 sections
Top: Basket weave
Inspirations: Shaker, Fibonacci
The Detailed Story
The design of the box and materials were inspired by the simplicity of traditional Shaker furniture and boxes. The wooden hinges and clean lines reflect this influence.
The hidden influence used in this design is a mathematical formula known as the Golden Mean or Fibonacci Numbers. This formula quite literally is the math behind the art. Leonardo of Pisa (aka Fibonacci) was an Italian mathematician back in the 1200s. He developed a sequence of numbers that are found to occur in nature in an almost eerie frequency. The sequence is simple, add the two previous number to get the next number. Here is an example:
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233…
0 + 1 = 1
1 + 1 = 2
1 + 2 = 3
3 + 2 = 5
3 + 5 = 8
Why is this important? Nature has found that in many cases the most efficient configurations or forms are consistent with these numbers. So what does this have to do with design and art? Our brains tend to find things designed around the ratios of these numbers to be pleasing, therefore, artists for centuries have intentionally designed paintings, buildings, music, and other art forms around these ratios. A quick example is in photography. Have you ever heard of the “rule of thirds”? This “rule” states that you should try to set up your subjects, horizons, and other focal points along a set of imaginary lines in the picture. The lines divide the picture in thirds vertically and horizontally. The reason, because a perfectly centered subject is not as pleasing to the eye as one that is slightly off center.
The picture is divided into 9 rectangles. The camera is positioned to have major objects along the imaginary lines. Again this rule is in place to help make the image more pleasing to the eye. So, how do we get from the Fibonacci string to rule of thirds and then to a basket top box? The picture below is a rectangle that has squares in it that are the numbers in the sequence above 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8. The entire rectangle is 8 units x 13 units (13 is the next number in the sequence). The dividing line between the 8 square and the rest of the squares is dividing the entire 8×13 rectangle into 1/3rd and 2/3rds.
So now we are starting to connect nature to math. You can see the nautilus shell has the same spiral pattern as the Fibonacci squares. You will see the same thing in many flowers, pine cones, ferns, shells, claws, etc in nature.
Now, lets discuss the connection to the box and design in general. Lets start with the inner trays. You will notice that they are similar to the picture above with the progressively smaller boxes. In this design the smaller 1, 1, boxes were omitted because they would be too small to be functional. Next lets look at the overall size of the box. The Fibonacci ratio is 1.618. This is the average of the change from one number in the sequence to the other. For example, the diagram above was 8 units x 13 units. If we take 8 and multiply it by 1.618 we get 12.944 or approximately 13. The wood box dimensions are 6.75” x 10.94”. If we take 6.75” and multiply it by 1.618 we get 10.92”. So the box is close to a perfect “Golden Rectangle”
Lastly, let’s look at the basket weave. The frame around the top is 1” wide. Lets change that 1” to quantity (8) 1/8ths of an inch. In keeping with the Fibonacci sequence, we want to use things that are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13… In this case, the strips of veneer in the basket are 2/8”, 3/8”, 5/8”, and the frame is 8/8”. The vertical strips are all 5/8” wide. The horizontal pattern is: