From the beginning I knew I wanted a nuts-and-bolts, mechanical design. My first thoughts were WWII and Cold War era design.
In the end, I think I drew the most inspiration from the Nautilus design from Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It perfectly represents the aesthetic I wanted with a very mechanical design which mimics an organic shape.
I really wanted my design to mimic an octopus as much as possible and gathered a lot of references.
Another feature of the tentacle array which I felt was necessary to capture is the "webbing" between the tentacles. To capture the look of the webbing and remain functional I want to try using rubber netting that will attach between the tentacles.
I plan on using rubber netting like this but form it into triangular sections like below. I will model in attachment points to connect to the tentacles.
I plan to to continue closely patterning parts on real octopi while also maintaing a mechanical design that's functional and aesthetically pleasing.