Design Notes Archive

Pattern Play

Pattern Play

I caught myself looking at the world through a designer's lens over the holidays. Come Christmas morning there were mounds of presents piled under the tree. My children's jubilation aside, I couldn't help but be smitten with the way the patterns were playing together. Checks overlapping stripes overlapping snowflakes, satin and velvet ribbon twirling about. All the papers carefully curated and presents painstakingly wrapped for maximum effect. My children could have cared less as they ripped through each one but I loved it for the 5 minutes that the mass of papers survived intact in a sea of pattern. It got me to thinking about Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham's installation at Somerset House during the London Design Festival. The friends are founders of Patternity, an online pattern image archive that’s been written up in Vogue, The Independent, Wallpaper, and more. They've made a career out of finding and cataloging images of pattern and the installation was quite a sight.


David Hicks was perhaps one of England’s greatest masters of pattern and the bathroom was no exception. He often treated bathrooms as any other room in the house, adding chairs and tables where space, even carpeting the floor in his signature geometric motif. If you can find a copy, pick up his 1970 compendium David Hicks on Bathrooms for a mass of ideas. I have always loved this bathroom in particular. The way the bold red paint accentuates the mirrors and creates a riot of pattern in the room. If we can bridge that gap between abstract pattern and actual interior design, it reminds me of Mark di Suvero’s towering red I-beams at Storm King Art Center in New York’s Hudson Valley. Closer to home, Michael Bolus’ red steel Sculpture No. 3 is on display at the New Art Centre in Wilsthire and was created in the midst of Hick’s popularity in 1974. Perhaps there was an influence, we can only guess!

Monika, Editor, Design Notes

Photograph © David Hicks, Storm King