Surface panelling as a design strategy is most of the times based on the topology of a surface.
Startingpoint is your panel object. You panel or clad your panel object as an array on your panel surface. With parametric software you can array your objects f.e. as a pattern and have still full control over the parameters of your individually panelled object.
(These pictures were originally created for Autodesk University (2013). Copyright © (2013) Autodesk, Inc. (David Fano))