1. Mosca, Rachele. What Is a Pattern? | Oppaca.,of%20any%20shape%20and%20size.

2.  A garment consisting of a length of cotton or silk elaborately draped around the body, traditionally worn by women from South Asia.

Fig. I. Patola

Form here is referred to as a pattern. A pattern embodies the recurrence of a visual component. Using a defined scheme, a module is established, capable of endless repetition while maintaining continuity. A key technical attribute of patterns is their uninterrupted quality, rendering them ideal for application on surfaces of varying shapes and sizes. With diverse variations and compositions, their geometric and symmetrical essence, along with the capacity to generate complexity through the repetition of basic elements, renders them distinctly exceptional.1

My home state, Gujarat, India, boasts the renowned textile art form known as “Patola” (Fig. I). My mother owns a Patola sari2 and I am consistently captivated by its abstract, symmetrical, and reversible designs and vibrant color palettes. This ancient weaving technique involves intricate methods where patterns are not simply printed but crafted through weaving with yarn threads that have been pre-dyed to achieve the desired design. Patterns in “Patola” are uniquely pixel-like and geometric. 

Type and typography play integral roles in design, and Adobe InDesign is a popular software choice for handling these elements effectively. I used this tool to create beautiful patterns either from a “question mark” or any glyph from the “Firki” typeface. I had the opportunity to experiment with organic and inorganic elements of designs. My inclination was toward the form that usually have a high volume of symmetry, repetitive glyphs, and uniform shapes. I employed varying point (pt) sizes to compose each pattern, leveraging the subtleties of scale to add depth and complexity to the designs.

Question Quilts

Website Design + Pattern Design

1. Does, Bram de. Kaba-ornament: Experiments with a Typographical Ornament and Its Mirror Image in Vignettes, Borders and Patterns. De Buitenkant, 2006, page 30 and 31.

2. Pivirotto, Nicole. Color, Form, and Magic: Use the Power of Aesthetics for Creative and Magical Work. Chronicle Books, 2021.

FIG. I: Table 3. Patterns. 12 symmetry groups with the Kaba Ornament

Question Quilts is a project inspired by my passion for pattern and type. Each pattern comes alive with fifty diverse question marks from fifty typefaces, forming unique patterns. Drawing inspiration from the “Kaba Ornament in Vignettes Borders and Patterns,”1 where “A pattern is a collection of finite figures,” I have seamlessly integrated the concept of patterns into Question Quilts. Utilizing Table 3 (Fig.I), which delineates patterns with 12 symmetry groups, I have translated these principles into 50 quilts. Each question mark within the collection undergoes a series of intricate processes: translation, mirroring, rotation, and reflection. Additionally, certain quilts are developed intuitively, adding a layer of spontaneity and creativity to the overall collection. 

Each color holds profound significance, embodying layers of meaning and emotion. Pink signifies affection and comfort, reflecting the soothing embrace experienced during the inception of the project's first ten quilts. Transitioning into the purple series, creativity flourishes, guided by intuitive impulses in the placement of each quilt. The orange series exudes confidence, transforming the creative process into an enjoyable endeavor. Meanwhile, the green series signifies balance, while the blue series evokes a sense of tranquility, guiding the project towards a more contemplative and logical progression. The symbolism of each color has been carefully considered, drawing insights from the book “Color, Form, and Magic.”2 Through the process of transformation and creation, each quilt emerges as a unique expression of the interplay between pattern, color, emotion symmetry, and intuition.  The website serves as an archive, preserving each quilt's essence. In the interactive quilt play, users can engage and create their own question quilt.

A–Z Firki

Pattern Design

1. Does, Bram de. Kaba-ornament: Experiments with a Typographical Ornament and Its Mirror Image in Vignettes, Borders and Patterns. De Buitenkant, 2006, page 30 and 31.

The collection of A-Z patterns is created using the Firki typeface with the passion for precision and an eye for details. Following a methodology similar to that of Question Quilts, I followed the steps in Table 3 (Fig. I, Page 136 and 137) from “Kaba Ornament in Vignettes Borders and Patterns” to create the pattern.

Each glyph within the collection undergoes a sequence of transformations, including translation, single-axis mirroring and translation, twofold rotation and translation, glide reflection and translation, single-axis mirroring and gradual translation, twofold rotation and single-axis glide reflection and translation, twofold rotation with wide glide reflection and translation, mirroring two axes and translation, mirroring two axes and gradual translation, fourfold rotation and translation, fourfold rotation with glide reflection along two axes, and mirroring along two axes with fourfold rotation (which also generates diagonal mirroring in one direction).1 Moreover, specific designs are created instinctively, contributing an element of spontaneity and originality to the entire compilation. I deliberately opted to keep the patterns in black and white due to the delicate nature of the glyphs, scrupulously designed at specific sizes ranging from 6 pt to 20 pt. This ensures that each intricate detail remains clear, preserving the integrity of the patterns without detracting from their delicate nature.

Aleks Dawson

Read the full interview here.
Dhwani Garg
The first question is also the most obvious: Can you tell me about your background?

Aleks Dawson
I was born in Australia and spent a significant portion of my childhood in Papua New Guinea. My mother is Serbian and I have dual Australian and Serbian citizenship. I have been in the US almost 13 years. I am currently designing at Tommy Hilfiger and also teach branding and typography at Parsons, and previously taught at RISD and Northeastern.

1. Dawson, Aleks. Re:Ornament,
What drew you to the field of ornament design? Was there a particular moment or experience that sparked your interest?

Excerpt from Aleks Dawson Re: Ornament Thesis Introduction:  
“I’ve always been attracted to ornament. One very early memory is that of the clanky century-old upright piano we had when I was a kid,[…]. I adored this piano: not just for its Cajun honky-tonk sound but for the inlaid brass work it bore on its front. The brass inlay had fin de siècle, William Morris-esque flourishes, and while I knew it referenced nature, these were plants I had never seen—whimsical and strange, yet somehow deeply familiar. They were fascinating to me, and I loved to sit at that piano and touch that brass inlay, wondering how it got there and who had made it; wondering why every other piano I had seen was so plain in comparison; and always thinking we were lucky, in a way, to have such extravagance in our home. 

In Papua New Guinea I saw ornament and pattern I had never seen before. I marveled at everything from bilum bags to mud masks, head dresses, piercings, body painting and basket weaving; right through to the ritual scarification that even some in my school had on their bodies. These patterns were so totally foreign to me and yet somehow deeply familiar[…]. This experience—coupled with my parents showing us Europe at a young age— had a significant bearing on my interest in ornament, pattern and design. Such widespread exposure to so much visual stuff—and from so many divergent places— greatly impacted my perception of the world and its seemingly universal love of the ornate.

[…]. Wherever we go, I habitually seek out examples of local ornament, always looking at the “vernacular,” and always questioning what these visual languages mean, where they came from, and what their future is in the broader context of an increasingly homogenized global visual aesthetic. As I have grown, I have come to believe that ornament exists far beyond appliqué. Ornament is so much more than “just wallpaper,” which in my experience has been a consistent critique leveled at it by its detractors, including some here at RISD. I believe this antipathy toward ornament and pattern stems from the lasting influence of the likes of Owen Jones and Adolf Loos, who in his 1910 lecture Ornament and Crime equated ornament to the Papuan’s savage “urge to draw on one’s face and everything within reach.” Modernists following Loos took his ideas further: from Le Corbusier arguing that a house should be a “machine for living” to Mies van der Rohe advocating “less is more.” The idea that ornament was somehow outmoded or simply not “modern” coincided with unparalleled industrialization and mechanization in our world. […]. If modernism stood for cleanliness, clarity and rationalism, ornament represented the antithesis. Ornament was materially and aesthetically demoted, and it has languished on the peripheries of our collective visual vocabulary ever since. And while ornament appears to have resurfaced in various kitsch and revivalist trends, it has not held the same aesthetic legitimacy it had prior to Modernism’s damning indictment.”1

FIG. I: Pattern Box
I had the opportunity to read your thesis, and I was amazed by your work. However, I was particularly drawn to the project Pattern Box (Fig. I). I would like to know what tool you used to create those patterns and if you could walk me through the process. 
In the Fall of 2018, Bethany Johns and Paul Soulellis took the Graduate Studio II class to the Providence Public Library’s Updike Special Collections. We were shown dozens of rare books and manuscripts and essentially tasked with choosing one as the basis of our formal investigations for the remainder of the semester. I was immediately drawn to Owen Jones’ 1856 Grammar of Ornament, a truly monumental work of publishing that achieved never-before-seen standards in chromolithographic color printing. I had seen reprints of the book before—I even own a Dorling Kindersley reproduction— but to see the colossal original folio edition in the flesh was nothing short of revelatory. Over the proceeding weeks I continued to iterate work based on Jones’ magnum opus, and twice made appointments with the Updike curators to see the book in person. I eventually produced the below set of sixty 17×14 inch lasercut patterns on bristol board based on Jones’ original plates, with the size and heft to match that of his original edition. This work was the genesis of this thesis, and I must thank Bethany and Paul for introducing me to Jones and encouraging me to push further with this investigation and celebration of ornament.

I made the 18×15” box with stained birch veneer ply at RISD’s Co-Works. I lasercut sixty 17×14” bristol board sheets at RISD’s Co-Works. I used to be a graduate instructor here, so ran teams of graduate and undergraduate students who worked here—we taught many different making skills.
Isabel Serna

Read the full interview here.
Dhwani Garg
The first question is also the most obvious: Can you tell me about your background, and how would you describe what you do?

Isabel Serna
I went to school for industrial design. So I’m an industrial designer. I worked at a luggage company for four years. I specialized in product design as an industrial designer and wanted to do packaging. I liked the graphic aspect of industrial design. Back in college, I liked branding and packaging as a specialization. When I was looking for a job, I found a job as a product designer, so I was fine. Working in the luggage industry is where I discovered pattern design.

As you know, as a luggage designer, I had to design the zipper pools, handles, wheels, and the bag’s look. It was a lot like figuring out fabrics for types of luggage, and one of the things that I needed to do was create the lining for the inside of the bag. I made patterns for the lining with the company’s logo because it was like a business-type luggage called Travel Pro, and now it has grown a lot. They used a lot of color, but at that time, it was mainly for flight attendants and pilots and was way more professional. 

I discovered patterns, and I was like, oh my gosh, what is this? I love the idea of recreating an icon or two and replicating them infinitely. I would go home and start figuring it out, and as you can see, I love colors. I would see how simple designs would look with a pop of color, how you scatter and play with them. So, I would go home and play a lot with patterns. That’s how I got started; I started creating a portfolio and made a website. I eventually started to reach out to companies, and I ended up leaving that job to do all this all the time.

So exciting and wonderful to hear. It’s always the best thing when something sparks. If you chase behind it and get to do what you love, it is always the best thing. 
It is true that inspiration can come from anywhere. Again, I was working as a luggage designer, and I never considered myself super artsy. All my life, I have always thought I wanted to be a doctor, and I come from a family of engineers. I did anatomy, physiology, and all that for two years, but I did not really get into art at all. When I graduated as an industrial designer and started working at this company, illustration was not even like; I didn’t know that there was a career as a pattern designer, and when I started playing with patterns at home, after I discovered pattern design, I was like, okay, let’s see if I can draw a dog. I would draw a dog. I’m like, I can draw a dog. I would challenge myself to be like, oh, can I draw a shoe? Can I draw an umbrella and a flower? This is how I realized I could draw. I started doing that more and more, and my business grew. I do pattern and illustration now because I realized when I was 30 that I could draw. 

It’s so amazing that you can follow your passion. Color plays a crucial role in your work. When choosing colors, do you consider deeper meanings, or is it all about aesthetics? Also, what makes working with color so enjoyable or fascinating for you?
Yes, color is very important for me personally and for the work that I do. When you say about the name of your thesis, it is like, what is the pt? Right? And for me, I asked myself that question in a different meaning, like, what is the point of what we do? The world is difficult sometimes. What is the point of beauty? What’s the point of art? I want to save the planet or whatever, like working on bigger things. I always come back to joy as an artist, illustrator, and pattern designer. At least for me, my mission and something really important for me is spreading joy and putting a smile on someone’s face when they see my work or making someone feel good, happy, and cozy when they see something I created. So, color is obviously crucial—all elements of that. Also, coming from Colombia and Latin America, I think you can relate because Indian culture is so rich in color. Because of our cultures, color is ingrained in us, and it’s important for us. It’s a way of expression almost. It’s weird because I am very drawn to black-and-white artwork. I love it when I see someone else doing that. I tried to do that sometimes. But it’s very different. Like, I just need to go to pink and yellow; it’s almost a necessity. It’s a way of expression.