Pattern Inspiration: Orla Kiely

A fashion designer whose prints I’m quite fond of is Orla Kiely. She’s an Irish fashion designer who The Guardian has called “the Queen of Prints”. By taking this course I keep thinking back to her patterns.

Some examples include:





Combining programming, science, and art

Interactions can become beautiful pieces of art as is displayed by the Wind Map, a software on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

wind map

Wind Map at the MoMA

The map is based on software that uses information from the National Digital Forecast. It then takes this information and transforms it into a visual masterpiece expressing wind patterns over the United States. Not only is this information beautiful, but it is also useful as it provides a simple visual aid to represent complex data.

Upon visiting the site of the Wind Map, take a chance to click on the actual map of the US to enlarge any segment. It’s very cool!

Pattern on a Box


Box pattern

I saw this pattern on a box that was thrown outside on my way to the lab today. I’d describe it as a white pattern on a blue background but in a way, it could be described as a blue pattern with cross sections of white. Due to the way the two colors work together, forms are created that wouldn’t exist if you just had one color operating.

One reason why the box stood out to me was because the pattern is conventionally pretty and catches the eye. But the other reason was because it seemed odd of a delivery box to be so beautifully decorated. Decoration can turn things that are usually dull and uninteresting and sometimes even unappealing to the exact opposite. Simultaneously, it can turn something that was once beautiful in its simplicity to a complete eye sore. So that suggests that there is a line, a a balance that artists and designers have to tread when creating things for people. It’s similar to the boundary between form and function. I think it’s always better to lean toward less decoration and more function, but that’s likely due to the mere fact that I’ve grown up in an age where simplicity is preferable.

Design in the Future

Smashing Magazine is a web design destination for information on best practices, current trends, and even little tutorials on how to master emerging techniques and new creative suite  functions. Related to the topic of patterns and textures in design as in Annette Tietenberg essay, this post (from about a year and a half ago on Smashing Mag) describes a now-common trend of incorporating textures into websites:

It is interesting to see how textures around you, such as the weave of the fabric from your oxford shirt or grouting between tiles or leaves in a tree, have become instrumental in making a website, a thing completely digital, more organic and natural.

The paradox between making something digital look more natural and something tactile and concrete look modern, clean, and sleek is a fascinating concept which may signal the future of design.

An example of this is the following this wedding website. It is a beautifully put together piece of work displaying a marriage of information and peaceful outdoor scenes*.  As the viewers, we are absorbed by the scenery on the page. It takes us from the computer and into a park, in front of a monument, or onto a staircase. We are there with this couple celebrating their joy, even though we have no idea who these two people are.

We are moving from nature to a representation of nature. A representation that can change at the click of a mouse button or a remote control.

This trend is also reminiscent of a Star Trek concept known as a holodeck where an empty room on the spaceship Enterprise serves the function of creating an artificial environment so real that the occupants of the Enterprise use it for recreation or simulated battles.

Is this where the future of design is heading? Is decoration meant to be contained in a neat sleek digital box to satisfy our ephemeral tastes?

*pun intended