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Visual Interest in Design: Controlled Randomization

One of the major concerns with painted or printed materials is creating beauty and texture without tiling, repetition or, the antithesis, being so flat there is no real visual interest to speak of. Distinct designs tend to have distinct patterns and interesting levels of contrast often lead to patterning when at a distance.

However, there are ways to manipulate the pattern and surface, allowing the design to become visually dynamic while remaining subtle. We internally call this “controlled randomization.” Below, we explain a few ways to do this with precedents.

Color Field Patterning

Hennepin County Medical Center


In contrast to subtle changes in pattern, “color field” patterning, strong color variation between panels, is a powerful way to convey design. Because this responds more to color, a resin that allows for saturated pigments is important. Typical PVDF resins are limited in color and intensity, therefore opting for FEVE LUMIFLON® is a great way to ensure the color is not flat. This project also benefits from a large-scale design, creating a sense of optical texture on the surface.

Project: Hennepin County Medical Center

Material: 2mm aluminum Autumn Rust DarkAutumn Rust MediumAutumn Rust Light

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Fabricator & Installer: MG McGrath

Varied Units

Legacy Fund 1

The aesthetic of the varied surface of the vertical tower recalls the quilted pattern of Midwestern agricultural landscapes viewed from above while respecting the exterior of the Mayo Clinic building in both color and texture. In order to achieve variation on a massive surface without tiling, the same design was used but units were either added or omitted in the process allowing the surface gloss to stay the same with subtle change in color and design, creating a more organic aesthetic. The finish, custom made by Pure + FreeForm, was developed closely with the architect in proof and manuscript to ensure there were no surprises prior to installation.

Project: Legacy Fund 1

Material: 2mm single skin aluminum Variegated Zebra Honed “Limestone” matte exterior coating

Location: Rochester, MN

Fabricator & Installer: MG McGrath