The Flowform® Principle, discovered in 1970 by John Wilkes, came about as a result of earlier morphological and mathematical research carried out by Wilkes and George Adams from the early 1950s until 1963, and after Adams’ death, by Wilkes alone. Flowform technology via a series of design bowls, utilizes mathematical precision to combine the rhythmic pulsation inherent in all living things with the dynamic movement of a mountain cascade, through the repeating figure of eight flow of water. The HEALING WATER INSTITUTE is an international not-for-profit education and research group founded by John Wilkes the Flowform inventor, and carried on by Iain Trousdell. For more information visit: and

I first learned of the Flowform Principle in 1995 while reading the book Sensitive Chaos by Theodor Schwenk. In this book, Schwenk investigates and explains the properties of water and its relationship to environment and life forms. He does so in a most comprehensive stretch, linking scientific and physical observations through to spiritual awareness. He does not regard water simply as an indispensable raw material, but as a living elemental source of all life. Both Schwenk and Wilkes strongly believe that our survival and the revitalizing of nature can only take place through such awareness of spirit.The Institute of Flow Sciences,an organization based in Germany and founded by Schwenk and is now administered by his son Wolfram Schwenk. On my research trip to Europe in 2004 I visited Wolfram at the institute in Herrischried Germany.
Also on the same trip I traveled to Forest Row England to spend a few days with John Wilkes at Emmerson College.

Flowform water sculptures are specifically designed to send water streaming through them in a pulsing, eddying motion. Such movement is said to invigorate and enliven the water, creating qualities that best support healthy life, both at the level of micro organisms within the
water, and also for plants and animals, including ourselves, that use the water. The movement of water also has a beneficial and cleansing effect on the surrounding air. The cleansing effects of Flowforms on polluted water make them particularly suitable for use in reed bed sewage systems. Smaller, more gentle models are available for use in gardens while others are made specifically for use in interiors– where they improve air quality, regulate humidity and
provide oxygenated water for house plants. At the very heart of Flowform design is the study of water in nature. Influenced by gravity, by the sun, the moon and by its interactions with air and surface, water shows the very pulse of life. The rhythms and movements of water leave their mark on bones, antlers, ivory, muscle; shape the structure of plants; and engrave breathtakingly beautiful patterns on estuary sands. But the aim of Flowform research is not simply to copy natural patterns, but to find an understanding of the formative principles operating in nature, and then to use this understanding with creative freedom.

John Wilkes designed and patented the first Flowform over 40 years ago. The early designs were made by Wilkes and his colleagues in England, but now the Flow Design Research Group includes many artists and scientists working across the world. Originally training as a sculptor at
the Royal Academy in London, Wilkes first became involved in water research back in 1961 through the Institute of Flow Sciences.

Flowforms have been created in a whole range of different designs. In very basic terms a simple design consists of one or more kidney-shaped water vessels. They may be made from all kinds of material, but for outdoor use they are most commonly made of concrete or reconstituted stone. Water enters at center top and exits center base, whilst moving through a clockwise vortex on one side, then an anticlockwise vortex on the other – linked by a meandering movement in the middle. More recently, new designs have been added to the range which send water into patterns other than the original figure of eight, but all of them give the water a pulsing rhythmic
movement. The vessels may be arranged in a straight or meandering line to form a cascade, or in a ring to form a rosette or radial design. The many variations give a wide choice of applications and beauty of form. The sculptures range in size from the large vigorous cascades such as the ‘Malmo’, suitable for treating waste water and for large ponds, to the medium and smaller units for parks, gardens and offices. Cascades like the ‘Emerson’ with its wide shallow vessels and the elegant curving symmetry of the ‘Seven Fold Cascade’ look good coming into a garden pond or pool. Their nature-inspired organic shape, together with their symmetry, allows them to look good in formal and natural settings. Radial Flowforms such as the ‘Ashdown’ and ‘Rose’ can be used in smaller ponds and as self-contained features over a submerged water tank.
A free-standing convex-based model has even been developed for interactive play. Taking the form of a rocking unit, two children or adults stand on opposite sides and then by supporting each other and co-ordinating their movements, they create the rhythmic figure of eight in the water beneath. Such models have been used with success to engage children with autism. More recent additions to the range include the ‘Iona’, a small radial form of three spirals inspired by the Celtic triskel; the ‘Ovella’, a single shallow oval bowl with a spiral inlet; and the ‘wall form’, carved into a large rectangular block and intended to grace a low garden wall.
Aside from the fact they look amazing, much research has been compiled on how exactly Flowforms influence the water passing through them. Many comparisons have been made between Flowforms and simple stepped cascades of equivalent capacity. Essentially it appears that the pulsating flow does not just simply add oxygen to the water, but that the rhythms enhance the sensitivity of the water in a way that increases its capacity to support beneficial, healthy life. When used to water seeds and growing plants, germination rates and growth also showed improvements.
In one early experiment in Holland, polluted water was pumped through parallel cascades – one a Flowform, the other a stepped cascade of identical capacity and flow rate. After gathering four years of records, the analysis of the chemical compositon of the water from each pond showed no consistent differences. However marked differences showed both in the growth of plants within each pond and the type of pond life each supported. Plants in the pond closest to the stepped cascade tended to favour leafy development typical of a slow moving eutrophic and shady water course. Plants in the Flowform pond tended towards generative floral development more typical of well illuminated rapids. The pond fauna in the stepped cascade pond was also typical of darker more sluggish water and favored organisms which included a winged stage such as midges. Organisms within the Flowform pond tended to be those with a fully aquatic life cycle such as crustaceans and water mites – again typical of a vigorous upstream river. Different Flowform designs in different situations influence the water in different ways but in general the rhythms induced in the water appear to enhance the sensitivity of water, increasing its capacity to support healthy life. The above exerts were taken with permission from Permaculture Magazine No. 40

In recent years Ian Trousdell and Ian Provines have created a wonderful line of small ceramic Flowforms. These small features are intended for indoor use. Perfect to enhance Feng Shei in ones home or office. These features are also very nice for the lobby of a doctors office, healing center or yoga studio. As well these features are perfect as an alter piece.

Above is the Matatiki used on the alter for the 2010 Water Vow Ceramony
For more information on the Matatiki Visit:

Further Reading: Flowforms – The Rhythmic Power of Water by John Wilkes, Energizing Water “Flowform Technology and the Power of Nature” by Jochen Schwuchow John Wilkes and Ian Trousdell, Sensitive Chaos by Theodor Schwenk. For more information on acquiring these books and Flowforms, feel free to contact me directly