Patterns are everywhere, in nature, in man-made things and in behaviors. Sometimes we use patterns as models for things, as in dressmaking or woodworking. Sometimes we get trapped into perhaps bad patterns of behavior, such eating dessert after every meal. Sometimes we add patterns as a decorative tool in our designer tool belt.

From a design perspective, patterns are back in after a decade of solid colors. I’ve even seen the overabundance of patterns, English decorator style, in a few design magazines that previously featured only stark Modern minimalism with pops of bright color. Shocking!! I have also noticed that even the modernists are using patterns to add life to their white spaces.

Biophilic design, incorporating nature into architecture, has been pretty popular for at least the past five years. Twenty years ago, we studied how Mother Nature made her patterns as inspiration for our own design work. We discovered that curves in Nature are almost always made up of straight lines. Even those curvy leaves, on closer examination, are made of segments. We thought this was exciting in the late 1990’s. If you look at our portfolio, you’ll see many examples of the segmented curve. This is an example of a pattern that is integral to the design, rather than a decorative add-on.

Decorative patterns are also important. We know that life, whether in the office, in a restaurant, in a home, or in a library, is hard on most interior finishes. Adding pattern to carpets (case in point antique oriental rugs that are still beautiful after 100 years of use) or fabrics will do a good job of hiding the wear and tear and dirt of life. Although you may think that designers want our clients to redo their spaces every year, for us the longevity of a space is important not only as an economic benchmark, but also as part of creating a more sustainable planet.

I remember buying my first sewing machine when I was 12 or so. My Dad said that I could select anything within a certain price limit. Together, we narrowed down the choices to two. One was a Singer, with every gadget and fancy stitch you can imagine. The other was a Husqvarna, white, simple, with only the basic straight and zig-zag stitches. They were the same price. I chose the simple and sturdy and elegant one over the fancy and complicated machine. I sewed on that machine for 40 years, with maybe one or two maintenance services. I used patterns when I was young, but then learned how to make my own patterns when I was at RISD. These skills were put to the test as I made costumes (pirate captain, cowboy, fire fighter) for my son. That wonderful sewing machine finally died a decade ago. Two years ago, I finally decided to replace it. My new (used) machine is a Pfaff from Germany. It is good looking and it has the fancy stitches. It took me almost a year to get up the nerve to use it!

Do you use patterns in your work or hobby? Do you have patterns of behavior that you would like to change? Do you appreciate patterns as decorative elements? We would love to hear your thoughts. If you think it is time for a little pattern in your home or workplace, give us a call!​

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