IAIA Islamic Design Workshop and Lecture Series
The Institute of Arab and Islamic Art is pleased to announce a series of design workshops and lectures that focus upon expanding knowledge and appreciation of a wide range of Arab and Islamic arts. These will be given by leading experts in their fields and will emphasize the teaching of traditional artistic practices. Each workshop will be appropriate to either beginning, intermediate, or advanced students. Typically, each workshop will be preceded by a free public lecture given by the workshops leader and held two
or three days prior to the workshops. These lectures will be at the IAIA center in Manhattan, and each lecture will directly relate to the subject of the coming workshop.
In furtherance of the founding ideals of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Art, Jay Bonner, Mdes, and his assistant, Steve Pomerantz, PhD, have been invited to conduct the first in our series of design workshops. This is titled An Introduction to Islamic Geometric Patterns and will be held on Saturday and Sunday, December 2 and 3, 2023.
Jay Bonner will also give a free public lecture titled Islamic Patterns: Geometric Innovation and Praxis that will be given at 7:00pm on Thursday, November 30, 2023, at the IAIA center in Manhattan (see below).
IAIA Inaugural Workshop: An Introduction to Islamic Geometric Patterns, December 2 & 3 2023
The extraordinary tradition of Islamic geometric patterns developed out of a profound geometric proficiency among the countless generations of master artists of past Muslim cultures. The level of geometric ingenuity, innovation and diversity associated within this artistic discipline is unparalleled within the broad spectrum of human creativity. And yet, very sadly, the historical methods for creating these outstanding designs were largely lost during the emerging modern era.
This two-day design workshop presented by the Institute of Arab and Islamic Art will be given in four separate sessions with each session providing three hours of detailed instruction. Each session can be taken on its own, or students can register for multiple sessions. A discount is given for taking all four sessions. Working with compass, straightedge and pencils, students will learn to create multiple historical geometric designs. The method being taught is the polygonal technique whereby key points upon a polygonal grid are used to position pattern lines. This is the principle historical design methodology used for centuries by Muslim geometric artists to create the wide range of exquisite patterns within this remarkable tradition. To aid the learning process,
printed instructional worksheets will be provided to each student, including worksheets that include the polygonal grids used to create each geometric pattern in each session.
Date and Time:
Session 1: December 2 / 9:00 – 12:00
Session 2: December 2 / 1:00 – 4:00
Session 3: December 3 / 9:00 – 12:00
Session 4: December 3 / 1:00 – 4:00
Four sessions are taken the cost is discounted to $800.
Institute of Arab and Islamic Art
22 Christopher Street
New York, NY 10014
Jay Bonner, MDes, and
Steve Pomerantz, PhD
The Four Sessions:
Each of the four sessions is independent and paid for separately. Students can take a single session, or more than one, and a discount is given for those taking all four sessions. Sessions 1, 2, and 3 provide detailed instructions for recreating twelve very beautiful historical designs, and Session 4 focuses upon creating the diverse underlying polygonal grids that are used in the
earlier sessions. This final session will also teach methods for giving the geometric designs a more elaborate treatment, including multiple varieties of line widening and interweave. This gives the braided effect that is so characteristic of this tradition.
Session 1: Patterns Created from the Regular Hexagonal Grid: This session focuses upon patterns created from the grid made up of regular hexagons. The recreation of four distinct and beautiful historical geometric designs will be taught (see below). Time permitting, students will apply color to their creations. Additional printed instructions will be handed out at the end of the session that will allow the students to produce further geometric patterns with this grid after the class has finished.
Session 2: Patterns Created from the 188.8.131.52 Grid: This session teaches the construction of four lovely historical patterns created from the 184.108.40.206 tessellation of regular hexagons and triangles (see below). This is a bit more complex than the material taught in Session 1. Time permitting, students will apply color to their creations. Additional printed instructions will be handed out
at the end of the session that will allow the students to produce further geometric patterns with this grid after the class has finished.
Session 3: Patterns Created from the 220.127.116.11 Grid: This session teaches the construction of four very beautiful historical patterns: two that are created from the 18.104.22.168 tessellation of regular hexagons, squares, and triangles, and two that are created from a more complex grid also made up of regular hexagons, squares, and triangles (see below). Time permitting, a more complex grid will also be provided for students who want to challenge their newly acquired design skills. These three historical designs are more complex than the material in the previous two sessions. Additional pri
nted instructions will be handed out at the end of the session that will allow the students to produce further geometric patterns with this grid after the class has finished.
Session 4: Drawing the Polygonal Grids and Interweave: This session focuses upon constructing the three polygonal grids that are used for creating the historical patterns taught in Sessions 1, 2, and 3. Detailed step-by-step instructions for making these grids will be provided. Students will be shown how these grids can also be used to make a far wider range of very beautiful
geometric patterns beyond those taught in Sessions 1, 2, and 3; thereby illustrating the tremendous design flexibility of this method of design. In addition to hands-on instruction, Session 4 will also provide printed instructions for several varieties of line widening and line interweave (braiding). This is of course a primary aesthetic feature of this tradition. In these ways, Session 4 provides a variety of fundamental features of this design discipline, and students who wish to continue exploring this artistic
discipline are strongly encouraged to take this final session to augment their learning from the earlier sessions.
For: These four sessions are suitable to artists, craftspeople, designers, and architects, both professionals and students, who are interested in expanding their creative influences to include sophisticated geometric aesthetics.
Skill level: Beginners are welcome, and no experience in working with geometric patterns or geometric art is required. However, a basic familiarity with the use of a compass and straightedge is necessary.
Limit: This workshop is limited to 20 attendees, and open to everyone from age 18 and above. High school students are welcome if accompanied by a responsible adult participant.
Objectives: By providing detailed design instructions for the material covered in the four sessions, each participant will learn several distinct methods for applying pattern lines to the polygonal grids. This design methodology was used throughout the Islamic world by the master geometric artists of the past and is directly responsible for the extraordinary diversity of outstandingly
beautiful Islamic geometric designs associated with this ancient tradition. After completing this workshop, the attendees will be able to apply their newly acquired skills to analyze and recreate other historical patterns using polygonal grids (tessellations). What is more, students will be able to apply their newly acquired skills to begin creating their own original geometric designs. This is highly rewarding and can be applied to all manner of artistic media.
Session 1: $250
Session 2: $250
Session 3: $250
Session 4: $250
If all four sessions are taken the cost is discounted to $800.
Bring: Attendees are required to bring the following materials and equipment to the workshop:
A compass (good quality)
A 12 - 18” straightedge (metal or plastic)
2H pencils and sharpener (or automatic pencil)
Sharp-point black pen (felt tip or similar)
A 9 x 12” pad of artist’s tracing paper (at least 75 sheets)
A 9 x 12” pad of premium drawing paper (at least 75 sheets)
Printed Handouts: At the beginning of each session, the instructors will provide each student with a packet of printed handout sheets. These will have three sections: (1) written instructions and illustrations with the material being covered in the session (for reference during the session as well as after the workshops are finished), (2) printed sheets showing the polygonal grids, lines
of radius, and key pattern layout points that are used for creating the patterns, and (3) additional handout sheets designed for students to use after they have completed each session. These are for students to use for creating further patterns after they have completed the workshops.
Instructors Brief Biographies
Jay Bonner is an internationally recognized specialist of Islamic geometric patterns and an ornamental design consultant for Islamic architectural projects throughout the world, including al-Masjid al-Haram (the Grand Mosque) in Mecca, and the expansion of al-Masjid an-Nawabi (the Prophet’s Mosque) in Medina. He has lectured and taught Islamic geometric design workshops at many universities and conferences in North America, Europe, North Africa, and Asia. With his courses and publications, Jay Bonner expresses his commitment to the revitalization of Islamic geometric design through the teaching of traditional methodological practices. Jay Bonner is also an author and has published multiple peer-reviewed academic papers. At 595 pages with over 100 photographs and over 500 illustrations, his book Islamic Geometric Patterns; their Historical Development and Traditional Methods of Construction (Springer 2017) is an important contribution to the better understanding of this fascinating subject. Other resources are available at https://www.bonner.design/
Steve Pomerantz received his doctorate in Mathematics from U C Berkeley in 1986 and is currently a math teacher and consultant. As an artist he specializes in paintings inspired by art and architecture around the world. He is an avid student and teacher of the relationship between modern and classical geometry and art; and how it can enhance the understanding and teaching of mathematics. He provides workshops to teachers and students in a variety of mathematical-art areas. Actively involved in the Monterey Bay Area Math Project, he published Classical Geometry – An Artistic Approach based on the workshops provided. He writes on applications of math to ornamental design, an example of which appeared in The Best Writing on Mathematics 2021. Other resources are available at