“Patterns are something we come across every day. We wear them, we walk over them, we even eat, drink and think them - we always have and we always will”. So says Anna Murray, founder of Patternity, a UK based design and research studio dedicated to the study of pattern. The studio began its life as the world’s leading online pattern image archive but has within just a few years branched out into all manner of directions including product and clothing design, events and consultancy - all with a razor sharp eye on pattern.
I came across Patternity while visiting London Design Festival a few years ago where they were exhibiting 'Phase', their knockout collaboration with British marquetry specialist, Toby Winteringham. The cabinet, a modern take on the art of marquetry in zigzagging pastel colours, won the Wallpaper* Design Award in 2011. Blown away by their skill with pattern and colour I have followed their blog and been regularly entertained by their short animated films. What is particularly interesting about the films and the work of Patternity in general, is their ability to take pattern found in the everyday and juxtapose it with new creations in fashion, craft and art. The shadows of a building informs their approach to garment design or a road grate inspires a plate. There is a definite magic in the everyday and Patternity is here to show us how to discover it.
Already gaining attention in 2010 they were selected to participate in Selfridges' Bright Young Things campaign, where several young artists and designers were given a window in the famous Oxford St department store for a month. Patternity’s window was a selection of legs wearing hand-printed tights loaded with graphic designs in three basic shapes rectangle triangle and circle.
Recently this concept was put into production by Pretty Polly, the iconic British hosiery brand and ‘Streetshapes’ will now be available globally. The three designs, ‘Bricking it’ ‘Shapeshifter’ and ‘Towerblock’ all have building or architectural references but also share a connection to Maori tattoos.
Patternity has received international acclaim for its highly specialized approach to pattern research and implementation and have worked with an astonishing list of clients including Apple, The BBC, The Barbican, Celine, Clarks Originals, Getty Images, Levis, Nike, Selfridges and The V&A. And that is just the big names. Recently Patternity have forged new collaborations with brands like Cos designing a window display for the Swedish brand and producing a short film. They have also designed rugs for British rug company Made by Node and designed an entire 28-piece collection for knitwear specialists, Chinti & Parker. Interviewed on her work with Chinti & Parker, Anna Murray summarized the work and that of Patternity in general as follows, ‘All our projects aim to encourage a more heightened awareness and sense of connection to our surroundings so for this collection we looked to urban architecture and the fundamental building blocks of life that surround us everywhere we go’.
It’s hard to wrap up the post without mentioning the delightful cup and saucer set ‘Warp’, designed for West London designer and entrepreneur, Richard Brendon. The set is made by traditional methods in Stoke-on-Trent, once the heartland of Britain’s massive ceramics industry. Made from bone china with a pattern in cobalt blue, the rims are in 24 carat gold. While the quality is undeniable, it’s the cleverness of the pattern that really makes it special. Seen from above the set performs tricks of illusion as the test pattern-style lines reverse and play with your perceptions, while from the side the pattern is warped by the glazed mirror-like surface of the cup. The range now includes three sizes of plate, called ‘Reason’ plus ‘Warp’ coffee and tea cups.
In September 2013, Patternity showed as part of Design Junction at the London Design Festival and launched a new rug 'Sunstripe' for Made by Node and several other new products from graphic art pieces to patterned tape that form their 'Sunstripe' range. The organisation continues to grow the way pattern can enhance our lives and according to Patternity, simplify it too. "At a time when we are deluged by information and paralysed by choice, pattern can clarify complexity".