A review of new book on pattern, The Pattern Base, and a look of upcoming show PATTERNITY

Carol O’Callaghan looks at a new book on pattern design and an upcoming show PATTERNITY at this month’s London Design Week.

Pattern is a big trend — for now — and among the latest books on the theme is The Pattern Base, penned by Kristi O’Meara of the Chicago-based design studio and pattern resource centre for designers, after which the book is named. 

It’s a young, up-and-coming organisation rather like an aspiring Pantone for pattern, and one which is growing in influence.

But unlike many interiors books that arrive from the publisher for review, inevitably expensive and with pretty pictures of aspirational rooms styled with the latest trends, this one is largely a practical encyclopaedia of hundreds of simple pictures of new patterns filling much of its 368 pages. 

A review of new book on pattern, The Pattern Base, and a look of upcoming show PATTERNITY

This marks it out from coffee table publications by a forward-looking emphasis, reflecting the digital age and how it’s pushing and progressing what’s possible in design.

Neither do we find the typical retrospectives on the likes of Florence Broadhurst, Lucienne Day or Marimekko (whose output and talent remain highly influential), but a ‘who’s who’ of new, up-and-coming designers from around the world and how they see the future of pattern design — where the digital aesthetic now dominates.

Rather unexpectedly, it is this on-going development in digital application to pattern — and seeing fabulous examples in the book — that prompts a reminder of how things have changed since the end of the second World War when new manufacturing methods and vast production of synthetics gave designers increased flexibility.

This conjunction of elements also contributed to a huge surge of interest in pattern after one of the most austere periods in living memory, so it’s interesting that pattern is re-emerging as forcefully today, when we draw, (hopefully), towards the end of our current age of austerity, also prompted by new technology.

A review of new book on pattern, The Pattern Base, and a look of upcoming show PATTERNITY

While not exactly a book to read, The Pattern Base is a beautiful publication and inspiring in its own way, but as a potential buy at the bookshop it’s really for those with a serious interest in pattern, form and for designers who want to know what’s coming next.

The Pattern Base published by Thames & Hudson. €26.33.

Just six years ago photographer and art director Anna Murray, and surface and product designer Grace Winteringham joined forces to found PATTERNITY, an on-line pattern image archive. 

A review of new book on pattern, The Pattern Base, and a look of upcoming show PATTERNITY

Describing themselves as ‘cult pattern pioneers’, they’ve now expanded the archive to include a pattern research consultancy, an educational hub, and a book entitled, PATTERNITY - A New Way of Seeing.

With forewards by international designer Tom Dixon and philosopher Robert Rowland Smith, the inclusion of these high minded and well-known individuals points to the consultancy having garnered considerable attention in the wider design field in a relatively short space of time.

This has now extended even further and taken them into the world of tea, of all things. As part of the London Design Festival taking place from September 19, PATTERNITY is partnering with T2, an Australian tea specialist founded by Maryanne Shearer nearly 20 years ago. 

A review of new book on pattern, The Pattern Base, and a look of upcoming show PATTERNITY

Shearer saw an opportunity to modernise tea-drinking by creating a new retail experience involving the placement of tea tables in her shops where customers could taste and smell the various teas on offer,as well as what she describes as a ‘tea library’ for customers to see and taste. 

Now with 65 shops across Australia, New Zealand, the US and UK, T2 also has its own range of tea accessories including diffusers and quirky cups and saucers. From these accessories comes part of the collaborative effort involving the development of a bespoke pattern which will be used to make one-off items of tea-ware.

On show at PATTERNITY Gallery, 28 Redchurch Street, London E2 from 21st September, they’ll be imprinted with strong graphic black and white pattern and will feature in two window displays the collaborators are curating as part of a five-day event to promote pattern.

A review of new book on pattern, The Pattern Base, and a look of upcoming show PATTERNITY

It’s an eclectic collaboration and not untypical of the London Design Festival where lovers of form and function can soak up more across town in the beautiful music room at the V&A’s Norfolk House in St James’ Square. 

There, they can muse on a mesmerising installation called Curiosity Cloud where Austrian design partnership mischer’traxler has, with inspiration from the Art Nouveau period, suspended 250 mouth-blown glass pieces from the ceiling, each detailed with extinct, known and new-found insects, a motif synonymous with Art Nouveau.

It’s a must for lovers of glass from both design and art perspectives, and a quiet respite from the buzz of London traffic, both vehicular and human, although arachnophobes may prefer to stick with pattern and tea cups.


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