Computational Design “form fields” – which combine art and algorithms

Computational Design “Form traps” are mathematically shaped wooden wall panels. The focus is on connecting design and acoustic function. The basis for the design of the individual pieces are specially developed computer algorithms. As a result, no panel is like the other. Perfection comes from the choice of materials of the highest quality and the symbiosis between machine-controlled CNC production and traditional carpentry.

Simon Vorhammer, Vorhammer Computational Design

Simon Vorhammer’s background in parametric architecture and digital manufacturing gave impetus to the design of these algorithmic interfaces. The design for this was created in 2017 as part of the interior of the Blitz Music Club in the former congress hall of the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

Each room shapes our perception and mood. Shape, color and sound change our sense of well-being and aesthetic perception. Form traps are mathematically shaped wooden wall panels that combine design and acoustic function. Their surface is defined by mathematical structures – algorithms. These specially developed algorithms generate patterns that make each surface unique – shape fields. The design principle combines digital and manual aesthetics. Shape fields change space, and they can do even more: they electrify.

computational design

computational design

Algorithmic design

Like a recipe, an algorithm consists of ingredients and steps through which a specific goal must be achieved. The design of this algorithm is not about defining the result, but about the process. Behind each form field is its own set of mathematical formulas that harmonize particular design principles, contextual influences, and material and tool properties. This algorithm always generates an independent result, depending on the parameters running through the system.

The similarities between two panels belonging to the same structure are not to be mistaken – but they are never the same.

computational design

Digital craftsmanship

The algorithms go hand in hand with the machining in the carpentry. The mathematical function gives the CNC machines precise information, so that a relief shape field is created from the raw wood by means of a subtractive process. The last step is the manual finishing of the surfaces with polish and wax oil.


Each wall panel is made up of several layers. There is a surrounding frame on the back of the relief surface. This ensures that the object remains in an even shape despite fluctuations in humidity and temperature. It encloses a cavity that provides space for acoustic insulation wool. The wall panel is hung up as a picture using a hanging rail attached to the back.

The sound scattering effect can be supplemented with absorbent properties. There is the possibility of a classic hole perforation or a microperforation. Here, the surface is provided with a large number of small holes that are largely invisible from a distance. Acoustic measurements show that the hollow absorber is particularly effective in the lower speech area.


Formfeld structures have been developed by Vorhammer Computational Design since 2016. The fascination for mathematical structures in nature and Simon Vorhmer’s background in parametric architecture and digital manufacturing gave impetus to the design of these algorithmic surfaces. The motivation is to create synergies from opposites: design and function, complexity and minimalism, digital production and traditional carpentry.

Credits Simon Vorhammer

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