In 2015, Spiros and I started our creative adventure having in mind a very clear artistic intention: illustrating books that we love by using as a key visual element the concept of pattern or repetition.
A pattern is an underlying structure that organises surfaces or structures in a consistent, regular manner. Using a pattern to tell a story and create connections is not a new concept.
And indeed, The Pattern Tales looks back at a time and at cultures where designing patterns was still an art and had a meaning. To consider a pattern as "just a decoration" is so inadequate, in our opinion. We design patterns as a way of illustrating and telling stories. It's what led us to form The Pattern Tales.
Pattern as a philosophy
We have a motto in our studio: "An empty wall is a missed opportunity for art and beauty". Whilst our limited-edition prints are highly decorative, they are so much more than "textiles" and certainly are not "wallpapers". William Morris, the major exponent of the British Arts and Crafts Movement, fully understood the power of pattern.
As the undisputed pioneer of textile design, he also introduced patterned wallpaper as Art, partly a creative protest against the graceless production of the Industrial Revolution.
He believed art to be an essential component of well-being. We couldn't agree more!
We love the beauty of his designs and his mission.
To create his designs, William Morris borrowed and revived many natural decorative elements from Ancient Greek, Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance arts, crafts and architecture.
His patterns and repetitions are inspired by natural elements as a way to imitate Mother Nature in the process of creating beauty and harmony around us. His beautiful and colourful designs are still in production today and some of them inspired my collection dedicated to Jane Austen's Mansfield Park.
Pattern as a storyteller
We started The Pattern Tales with a clear vision; to bring to life a never-ending story.
To understand this concept, we can look at Islamic art and the way it uses patterns. In a culture where the representation of people is prohibited in holy places, the use of patterns and abstract forms is a way to illustrate complex concepts about the meaning of life and humanity. Islamic patterns show us how geometric forms convey important messages.
Islamic patterns are characterised by pure abstract forms as opposed to the representation of natural objects.
For this reason, you will not find an Islamic print of certain elements, yet you will see geometric designs that are similar to crystal forms.
This geometric art is very much connected to the famous concept of the arabesque, which is used for flat surfaces and consists of interlacing geometrical patterns of polygons and circles, interlocked with lines and curves.
Arabesque can also be floral, using a stalk, leaf, or flower as its artistic medium, or a combination of both floral and geometric patterns.
The interlacing patterns signify infinity. It's designed to produce a contemplative feeling, drawing in the viewer and mesmerising them.
Pattern to build connection
One of the reasons we started The Pattern Tales was to recreate a deeper emotional connection and resonance between our artworks and the book characters and stories that live in our minds as avid readers. Looking at patterns creates a visual balance and harmony (it's one of the reasons why the world of spiritual yogic practice so often features geometric mandalas, as an aid to meditation). Nature is also filled with patterns which are inherent in our visual memories, so our pattern-filled artworks connect familiarly with the world around us.
In ancient Greek and Roman art, the central point of a mandala often meant the Self. In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the centre represents the starting point of contemplation and the path of devotion. Mandalas can also tell a story of where an individual has been. In some cases, they will reveal the individual's path in life.
However, Mandala proves how the patterns can be so powerfully able to bring back experiences and awake consciousness, connecting us with our deeper soul and protecting us from everyday distractions.
How our trip to Japan inspired our own pattern-making
Our latest trip to Japan delighted our senses and inspired this blog post. Seeing patterns in kimonos, fans treated as a piece of art, framed and under glass, made our hearts jump with joy.
We felt connected and understood. We couldn't get enough of the origami papers featuring sea waves, known as Seigaiha, considered a symbol of peace, good luck and fortune. We also loved the beautiful Furoshiki decorated with a chrysanthemum pattern (known as a Kiku), a symbol of longevity and rejuvenation.
We couldn't bring home everything we wanted that had a pattern on it, so we chose a rare book of patterns, to learn more about this culture through their amazing art. If there is something patterns teach us, it's that that they connect cultures to stories and go way beyond being decorative elements.
Food for thought
What's your favourite pattern? Do you know to which culture it belongs?
If you have a favourite pattern (maybe on a dress, on a furniture or featured on an old print) share it with us on Instagram tagging @thepatterntales and include the hashtag #thepatterntales. In your post, tell us what you like about the depicted pattern, how you feel wearing it or just observing its rhythm!