History of textile patterns

From the first paintings made in caves to the fashionable clothes we buy today, patterns are everywhere. When and how did patterns and pattern making arise and how have they evolved over time? What is the impact of this history on the development of textile patterns?

The definition of the pattern

Pattern is a way of seeing shapes. The pattern is directly linked to the lines, more than to the color. Furthermore, the color, light and shadows, general structure and composition of the painting are based on this basis.

Pattern is the element that forms the basis of most art, from home accessories to architecture and textiles. The pattern is the first step in the decorative elements and embroidery that we see on many everyday objects or luxury items. Learning the concepts of line, movement, balance, volume, proportion, shape, rhythm, composition, perspective, light and color allows you to create a good drawing (or rather a good design as part of French Design).

What is pattern making?

Pattern design is the first of the methods applied in fields such as architecture, textiles, interior decoration (curtains, wallpapers, tablecloths, floor coverings, bathroom wallpaper, kitchen tiling) where visuality and aesthetics are at the forefront. The design process is a process created by examining the pattern in its functional and artistic dimensions and using different materials and techniques. The point to consider in pattern design is to ensure the integrity of the color, composition and shape used. This is a significant part of the work of a textile design apprentice.

Most common reasons

Ethnic motives

The different locally developed pattern designs vary depending on the culture and beliefs of the society concerned. Indians emphasizing the elephant motif, Africans emphasizing tiger and leopard motifs, Nordic countries emphasizing greenery and pine trees are some of the most common, even caricatured, examples of motifs. popular culture from different regions of the world.

Floral patterns

Floral patterns are shapes that have been used since the beginning of the history of pattern making. This is one of the patterns applied to almost all types of objects.

Geometric patterns

Geometric patterns, which began to be widely used in the 1910s, have continued to be used until today with an emphasis on different shapes depending on the decades.

Expression Patterns

This type of pattern, the most used today, is the one that is produced for more commercial purposes. For example, designs such as bows, hearts, cats, flower baskets are the most common.

Today, pattern creation develops according to the social context and culture of the city or nation. The world of design, where rich visuality can be presented with new patterns composed of the popular approach to urban culture, can also present modern reflections of ancient cultural symbols.

History of patterns and their use

Since man has existed, one of these most fundamental artistic expressions has been through the art of drawing. This act, which was not always intended only for decorative purposes, sometimes served as magic. When human beings became sedentary, when people and social masses were formed, the act of drawing had already given way to more modern methods, notably thanks to the rapid diversification of artistic mediums.

Pattern creation, on the other hand, quickly manifested itself in original products and some patterns were made on hand looms. If this production, produced in small quantities, is intended for the upper strata of ancient societies, audiences from all walks of life are fond of it. Silver or stony fabrics, produced especially for high society, also attracted attention.

With the invention of the spinning and weaving machine, which is one of the results of the industrial revolution of the 1800s, the general public had the opportunity to benefit from this production, and the democratization of the pattern took place step by step. This technological innovation, which first emerged in England, also raised the problem of raw materials in developed countries.

Countries looking for raw materials engaged in colonialism and materials such as cotton and wool were obtained from the colonies. While machines have made production easier, they have also raised new problems. This is how the patterns lost their former weight and visual richness. While intellectuals of the time supported this technological progression, they also argued that the richer aesthetic of handmade works had been lost. And in fact, at this time we began to see much simpler patterns, allowing textiles to be worked in large volumes.

British architects were at the forefront of these intellectuals and declared that traditional aesthetics had deteriorated, become mediocre, and that this environment would no longer allow for creative and aesthetic emulation. Efforts to popularize crafts (and particularly “handmade”) have been undertaken with the opening of several schools. Pattern and design fairs began to be held to protect the more classic aesthetic. It was also at this time that museums began to emerge. Museums, which were created so that the public does not forget the crafts and these original works produced in the past, have particularly taken up decorative arts and textile creation.

Then, Art Nouveau appeared in the Victorian era. In fact, all arts experienced great development during this period. During these decades, when we saw very marked examples of technical development, especially in architecture, garden arrangements surrounded architectural embellishments, and the "whip form" began to be used as the example the most important and most characteristic of Art Nouveau. Also during this period, floral forms began to occupy an increasingly important place in architecture. At the same time, there was the explosion of the textile industry, notably with the start of “Department Stores” in Europe and more particularly in France. Mainstream women's fashion, which really took off during this period, quickly took advantage of developments in know-how to democratize patterns, particularly floral patterns.

Art Deco began after this trend which lasted until 1915. At this time, geometric shapes emerged as well as triangular and rectangular shapes. It was at this time that cars and different models of vehicles appeared. The pattern then transforms into design and geometric patterned fabrics make their first appearances.

With the establishment of the Bauhaus school, geometric and non-figurative shapes appeared, and a style was determined based on the understanding of the fashion of the time, such as the pattern of the fabric.

During the Second World War, while we observed that chemical patterns and molecules took center stage in fabric patterns (particularly as a result of the war), we noticed that spatial patterns and even space itself were used, with the start of space exploration in the 1960s. At this time we were already seeing a much wider use of patterns in fashion, and these made very figurative references to events or striking concepts, moving away greatly from a pure search for aesthetics.

During the 20th century, major brands will work intensively on the importance of the pattern which will become a very identifiable standard and a selling point in itself for textile brands.

The Pop-Art movement, which formed in the 1960s, attracted urban youth, and younger generations began to create their own fabric designs. Continuing the momentum of the 1950s, the motif sometimes becomes a purely humorous product, notably thanks to the explosion of the t-shirt, a type of clothing which will become commonplace during this period. Moving a little further away from artistic motifs, textile motifs are gradually becoming generational or political rallying symbols.

sample pop art pattern