What is the meaning of Pattern?

Patterns are constantly present in our lives, even if we cannot recognize them.

Their origin lies in nature, although they have countless uses and are adopted in different sectors: architecture, software programming, meteorology, biology, and even chess.

What is the meaning of Pattern? The term in English means motif, shape, and arrangement of images that repeat symmetrically and follow a precise order.

Fractals, spirals, tessellations, stripes, etc., are countless examples of patterns nature offers us. Visible demonstrations are the cracks in the materials, especially in the soil or the bark of the trees. Or the dunes created by the passage of the wind or the skin of mammals - for example, zebras and leopards.

In architecture and design, patterns are a communicative tool. They create balance and generate aesthetic pleasure by “placing themselves between chaos and redundancy,” as the Austrian artist Ernst Gombrich stated. Among the various patterns examples are the majolica tiles' decorations - used in the Italian and Spanish convents - and the renowned Portuguese tiles called Azulejos.


Courtesy of Ceramica Vietrese
Courtesy of Getty Images
Courtesy of Monastero di Santa Chiara

As we have seen, patterns exist in various sectors, but always with one common factor: repetition. Let’s talk about the patterns in the graphics world: how many patterns exist and their evolution throughout the history of graphics.

Graphic patterns are divided into:

  1. Regular or symmetrical pattern: consists of a basic geometry repeated in a specific pattern. They can have a block repetition, variable height, mirrored, or rotated.
  2. Irregular pattern: It variates in shape, color, and size while maintaining its recognizability.
  3. Complex patterns: a combination of two or more repeated elements.
  4. Radial Patterns: the pattern is repeated in all directions starting from a central point.
  5. Gradated pattern: the pattern is repeated geometrically by varying its size, color, and intensity.

The concept of Graphic Pattern was born in China in 220 a.D. with the first color printing experiments on fabric. Here carved wooden blocks were used, impregnated with color, and pressed by hand onto the fabric in a regular sequence. This technique landed in Europe in the twelfth century through relations with the Middle East.

One of the first Pattern Designers in history is the English Marianne Straub, who covered the London underground in the late seventies with her creation. From that moment on, the Graphic Pattern takes flight to the big luxury brands.

Most of them use the Logo Pattern, the infinite repetition of the logo, such as, for example, the famous Louis Vuitton monogram created by George Vuitton. Inspired by Japanese symbolism and present in most garments and accessories of the French Maison, it boasts a history of more than one hundred years.


Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Karl Lagerfeld designed a hypnotic double “F” Logo Pattern in the 60s for the Italian fashion house Fendi. In 2018, the artist and graphic designer Hey Reilly, with the launch of the “Fendi Mania” collection, revisited the logo with a new font - the one used by FILA - to create a bridge between high fashion and streetwear.

Another example of a hypnotic Logo Pattern is the one created by the French Maison Givenchy. Composed of four “G”s that cross - side by side - forming squares that are repeated endlessly on the fabrics. This composition recalls the ornaments of Celtic symbols.

The oblique monogram of Dior, created by the French designer Marc Bohan in the 70s, is among the most interesting ever. This “Oblique” pattern comes from the autumn collection created by Christian Dior in the 1950s.


Courtesy of Fendi
Courtesy of Givenchy
Courtesy of Dior

Some brands have created patterns without their logo but with a particular design. For example, “Unikko” from the Finnish brand Marimekko. Created by designer Maija Isola, it is one of the most recognizable patterns in the world. The “poppy” pattern was born from a moment of rebellion against the rules imposed by the founder Armi Ratia, who would never have wanted to use floral elements in her creations. Ironically, nowadays, this pattern is practically considered the symbol of Marimekko.


Courtesy of Marimekko

The French Maison Goyard, founded by Pierre-François Martin in 1792, uses a “Y” symbol pattern. It is speculated that the letter in the brand name represents the three generations of the Goyard family.


Courtesy of Goyard

A Bathing Ape, a Japanese brand founded in Tokyo in 1993 by Nigo, uses a pattern called “Cloud Camo”. It represents the face of a monkey hidden in its shades. This original and singular look distorts the classic military texture, allowing the brand to win primacy in streetwear.


Courtesy of A Bathing Ape

The “Wheat leaf” pattern accompanies the Tiffany & Co. brand. It is featured in the collections, the facades, and the interiors of the stores. This pattern is inspired by a drawing affixed to the doors of the first Tiffany & Co. store in New York.


Courtesy of Tiffany &Co.

Technically the pattern is a unitary entity, but it is usually considered the sum of several symbols. They are decidedly expressive elements, easy to memorize and recognize. Thus, luxury brands focus specifically on this factor. If taken individually, they are exciting and beautiful. When combined, they can create unique and thrilling scenarios, sometimes hypnotic and undoubtedly unforgettable.