The Five Elements

Philosophers in different cultures have believed that the world is created from the Classical Elements of Fire, Water, Earth, Air, and Aether. These elements represent the purest form of being — each with a mathematical representation in the living world called a regular polyhedron. These forms are known for their symmetry.

There are only 5 regular polyhedra in the world each assigned to an element: the tetrahedron represents Fire and is visualized as sharp; the icosahedron represents Water and is visualized as flowing minuscule balls; the cube represents Earth and is visualized as dense; and the octahedron is Air and is visualized as smooth and nearly imperceptible. The fifth element, quintessence or Aether is non-terrestrial and beyond the material world. These were referred to as Platonic Solids.

Inspired by these concepts, I created this series of illustrated patterns to visualize the energy, matter, and space they represent. From the first to the last patter, the order represents the evolution of the elements from their original geometric form to the organic matter in the living world.

The Exhibition

Since my pattern is based on a philosophical theory, it is best represented in an abstracted form. I focused on the order of the evolution in the world. Therefore, I designed the layout to covered the exhibition space from the ground to the rooftop, making it a semi-enclosed space.


I decided to make a very long rectangular fabric quilted with panels of different patterns. In the bottom patterns, the patterns illustrate the growing and evolving process of platonic solids in the early stage. As the level getting higher, the solids gradually form the objects that exist in corresponded level as the real world. The center fabric is surrounded with the 3D platonic solid plushes. Therefore, the combination of the fabric and plushes recreates an impression of how platonic solids formed the world.