June 17th is Tessellation Day. Tessellation is an arrangement of shapes closely fitted together, especially of polygons in a repeated pattern without gaps or overlapping.
Surely, there’s little more in the world more visually pleasing than tessellation – that wonderful, perfect effect when the same shapes can be repeated again and again to fit perfectly against themselves. Your standard tiled kitchen floor is a tessellation – but the patterns that can fit together get much more complicated than that!
Even if you’re not a maths buff, you might be a sucker for pretty patterns – and if so, then today is for you!
History of Tessellation Day
This day was started up for all pattern-lovers by a bunch of math fans, and a children’s book author. Emily Grosvenor, author of the kids’ book Tessellation! took it upon herself to make this a day to celebrate shapes and patterns of the repeated, tiling kind.
Tessellations have been celebrated for a long time – tessellating patterns can be found in scores of ancient art and interior designs. Their beauty comes from their exactness of repetitiveness, and the fact that there is no space between the interlocking patterns.
The earliest known example currently of tessellating patterns being used is from the Sumerians in about 4000 BC, who made snazzy wall designs using repeating patterns made from clay tiles.
Tessellating patterns can also be seen in the mosaic form in ancient eras, usually used in borders of friezes and to decorate floors of temples for that ‘wow’ factor. Repeating patterns are usually used today for tiled floors, such as in your kitchen or hallway.
Tessellations didn’t start to become part of a mathematical study until 1891 when crystallographer Yevgraf Fyodorov proved that every possible tiling of a flat surface will feature at least one of seventeen different groups of isometries.