reading art magazine in the surface pattern design studio


Textile, home, urban landscape

Textile is a carrier of many meanings - practical and decorative, as symbolically marked as a painting canvas, although less often perceived in this way. As the functional and aesthetic areas meet, additional value is created on the surface of the fabric, which should be looked at closely.

It is a space for the flowering of a unique artistic field - designing graphic patterns, repeatable elements transferred by printing methods to fabrics, paper or ceramics. The so-called surface designs are an integral part of the activities of large commercial sectors, whose products are present directly in our homes and in public spaces, and at the same time they are an element of contemporary visual culture, almost silently forming a new path to artistic expression close to everyday life.

From the point of view of the world of art, pattern design enters the sphere of several important areas of artistic design, or perhaps rather results from them, and thanks to this combination, which is not easy to define, we are dealing with a field with interesting potential, in my opinion not fully exploited in the academic and artistic context. Graphic pattern design is a multidisciplinary field of interpenetrating arts, naturally resulting from the function and form of: illustration, computer graphics, screen printing, fashion, interior design and artistic textiles. The scope for creative expression and specialization in this context is enormous. Touching these various areas of art, pattern design draws from them, complements them, and achieves the potential to set new directions while following the achievements of each discipline. This "between" the utilitarian and the artistic, "between" art and art, pattern design often leads towards the periphery, or giving it the function of an addition to the previously mentioned fields. However, with the proper use of its structure, roots and multi-context, unique things can be created. It is a medium with enormous potential to manage the aesthetics of everyday life, transforming it into a non-obvious transmitter of content that has a chance to go beyond the category of seasonal trends.

textile pattern design model
Surface pattern design with Madrid city motif, dedicated for home textiles.

Among all the artistic disciplines that intertwine with pattern design, the illustration area deserves special attention. Its clearly defined presentation frames are usually small paper formats, books, magazines, as well as all kinds of digital forms - however, these on the commercial market also most often take the final form of a small-format poster, for example for your own printing. The expansion of illustrations beyond this format and the expansion of its media to other usable surfaces gave it enormous popularization potential in the form of a repeating or single motif on wallpaper, bedding or clothing. In this way, both manual and computer illustration is always close to us and takes a variety of forms. Then it becomes not just an illustration, but a design for printing on a usable surface.

The power of a surface pattern design

In most homes, repetitive graphic motifs will certainly outnumber illustrated books and albums, graphics, and paintings, although they will remain less noticeable in an artistic context. The practical dimension of fabric in the context of everyday use slightly exceeds its aesthetic aspect, but I believe that designing graphic patterns can oscillate between the worlds of art and business without losing the status of an artistic work. It can be a link between these two areas and influence the wider presence of high-quality illustrations in our everyday lives. Experiencing the presence of works of applied art is much more intense and frequent than contact, for example, with gallery exhibits. Perceiving print patterns in this way, we can treat, for example, a fabric carrier as a freely sized and reproduced painting canvas, which accompanies us every day, often in large formats (bedding, tablecloth, dress, sofa). In my opinion, this wide presence of fabric in our living space obliges creators to treat it with more attention. And since our homes are "made" of fabric, its everyday companionship is also highly emotional and meaningful, which gives us great potential for artistic and academic interpretation.

      The power of a graphic pattern's message lies in its repeatability. Repetition in a pattern can lead to strengthening the message, with appropriate use of its structure, composition and color palette. And creating a coherent structure also means creating a story: about the harmonious growth of one plant element into another, a story about an undisturbed color rhythm and proportional interpenetration of layers, but not only that. It can also mean creating much more complex stories, symbolic and emotive, having an emotional impact on the recipient, building not only their style (interior, clothing), but also their aura.

surface pattern design with London city motif presented by a model
"Literary London" textile pattern design - urban collection project

Textile and Home - the inseparable relationship

Here I will return to the previously mentioned approach to the house as a place "made" of fabric. This simplification is intended to emphasize how many usable surfaces covered with prints exist in our home surroundings. These illustrated surfaces still speak to us. Therefore, observing the inseparable relationship between fabric and home, I created - as part of the activities of my design studio - a collection of patterns devoted to the topic of home and city. The main goal of this series was to transfer, for example, the urban landscape of Madrid to the interior of the house, or, in another project, to immortalize a row of tenement houses whose outlines dissolve in the reflection of the river flowing through the Old Town of Gdańsk. The first stage was to create hand-painted, watercolor illustrations presenting fragments of real cities: Bergen, Gdańsk, Madrid and those partially imagined, such as in the "Literary London" project seen through the prism of Virginia Woolf's work. This meta dimension of the house motif reflected in a graphic design, the carrier of which will be an element of home furnishings or a household member's wardrobe, is one of the infinitely many possible ways to use the potential of pattern design.

      Magical London presented in the style of the late 19th century refers to the aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts movement. Taking into account the origin and time in which Virginia Woolf lived, she quite probably had wallpapers by the precursor of this movement - William Morris - in her home. It is also a composition consisting of iconic elements of the capital of Great Britain, symbols of a new era and the literary circle of London: a typewriter that taps out the eternal unwritten, which is a constant search for an innovative way of prose expression.

model in a dress with city pattern design theme
Coat dress with surface pattern design "Walk through the Gdańsk Old Town".
Model and fashion design - EliZampia

Repeating the rhythm of the city

The "Walk through the Gdańsk Old Town" project required a slightly landscape approach. The tenement houses are arranged in even rows, but the lower part of their facades blurs into a watercolor stain, the colors of this characteristic colorful architecture wander from one house to the next, emphasizing their inseparability in the urban landscape and their rhythmic waving on the surface of the Motława River. It is a pattern of nostalgia towards the aesthetics of another historical time, it is a constantly sent postcard from a tourist visit, an idealized hazy memory.

      The architectural envelope of a house can be an eloquent means of expressing the meanings hidden behind its doors, in the stories of its inhabitants. That's why I used this way to tell the current history of Ukraine in the "Renewal" project of February 26, 2022. The illustration shows a house broken in half, sketched in pencil, from which grow watercolor yellow and blue flowers in the muted colors of the Ukrainian flag, definitely larger than the scale of the house, growing towards the future, giving hope for renewal. This is not only about hope for renewal in the sense of rebuilding a physical place destroyed by an unjustified war attack, but about reviving faith in the power of the very idea of home, in the power of peace, faith in the idea of art and culture that will survive regardless of whether we call the inhabitants of this house homebodies, or refugees.

      The design of a print on a usable surface is an unusual medium of communication in this context. The entire urban collection goes slightly beyond the typical commercial tendencies in this industry, it was created to ensure that what is in our everyday space not only creates an aesthetic everyday life, but also has the opportunity to talk about our everyday life. 

Madrid, 19.03.2022 r. 

The text was previously published in the art-academic magazine ¨Fraza¨, nr 1-2 (119-120) 2023

1 Comment


1 Comment

  • What you said is absolutely true…in any given home, the number of surface patterns will outnumber the illustrations
    Also correctly mentioned, it’s intertwining of so many artforms…
    Very thoughtful blog…and the patterns are so nice…there is narrative behind why the motifs are there in certain way…

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