"Designing Patterns: For Decoration, Fashion and Graphics" is a lively, fun and detailed book by one of Scandinavia's leading designers. Lotta Kuhlhorn's vibrant surface patterns and her design methods make this a page turner. She shares multiple forms of inspiration which drive her designs, from nature, to film, to objects in stores and homes, and more, and she tells wonderful stories about her process for designing everything from trays to wallpaper. The book includes numerous full page color plates.
Kuhlhorn looks for patterns everywhere as they correspond to her surroundings, whether urban or in nature. For example, I love how she creates stripes from meaningful concepts in everyday life. Kuhlhorn discusses how each stripe on a design can be a symbolic representation, perhaps from a trip, an urban area, a human relationship, etc. The possibilities are endless. I'm excited to try the idea myself, along with several of her other tips, which she describes in detail.
The book is arranged in sections on Kuhlhorn's inspiration, her work methods, patterns, and do-it-yourself projects, and also includes a Pattern Starter Kit CD.
Images are from http://usshop.gestalten.com/designing-patterns.html
During this time period computers were not used in the design process. It was all drawing, blowing up the image to life size and laying motifs out. Birtwell’s process specifically was to draw a face, then the garment below, only then would she begin to design the fabric. “Most textile designers don’t think about where the print will end up, how it will work in three dimensions, but Celia always does,” says Linda Watson.
After 10 years in the fast paced fashion world Birtwell’s partnership with Ossie Clark ended in divorce. With 2 sons to raise Birtwell was looking for a change and found the slow process of designing interior textiles fit her perfectly. Celia Birtwell is still going strong, check out her website to see what she is up to now. http://www.celiabirtwell.com/
For sketching I mostly just use loose pieces of computer paper and a pencil on a clipboard. I have a tendency to make the sketches really tiny then fill up all the remaining blank spaces on the page (front and back) with various sketches for other things. The fox and spy dog sketches I’m including were done within a few days of each other so they were on the same piece and side of paper.
When I’m making characters or icons with a theme, I usually have a really strong idea of the design I want to do and sketch all the pieces out at once. When I’m doing botanicals or a geometric based idea, I try to be more free with the shapes and placement while sketching and I will fill up more of the page. There are times when I only have the beginnings of the idea which I take into Illustrator and experiment with. Or I make a design and once it’s in Illustrator I realize I don’t like it as much as I thought I did and then mess around with it there.
I also keep a small notebook in my bag in case I need to write a note or draw a quick shape to remind myself of an idea later, but I don’t do any real sketching in it.
I don’t use any of my actual sketches in my artwork, they’re really just there as a map of what I want to do and to make sure I know exactly how I plan to draw a certain object. After I sketch on paper, I re-draw everything in Illustrator using a Wacom tablet. It’s actually a lot quicker for me to just re-draw something than to scan and trace. I’ve also created a custom set of brushes based on my hand done drawings that help expedite this process.
Once I have my shapes I smooth out the edges, adjust anchor points, and pick a color palette. Sometimes the color palette is a bigger inspiration for the direction of what I’m doing and I will pick that out before I even start sketching. After the drawing is done and the colors are set in Illustrator, I move everything over to Photoshop and start painting to add texture and shading (also done with custom brushes) . I sometimes change the colors once I’m in Photoshop but I try to get that part out of the way in Illustrator. The painting step isn’t always necessary since my drawings could be considered finished in Illustrator, but I like the dimension a painted texture can add.
I do occasionally paint with watercolors or use Faber Castel markers but I almost never use any of these scans in my finished work. At least not at the moment anyway. They’re usually just for fun or sketching purposes.
Enid Marx: Design
By Ruth Artmonsky and Brian Webb
Antique Collectors’ Club, 2013
Marx was a leader in engraving and drawing. She produced designs for textiles, pattern papers, end paper, book jackets, stamps, posters, labels, cups and saucers, and more. She wrote and illustrated books for adults and children, and authored articles, and was an avid collector of folk art. Her work was featured in exhibitions, and she took part in the design of textiles for the London subways and buses in the 1930’s-40’s, which were in use for decades, and created designs for the 1940’s
wartime Utility Furniture scheme to produce affordable furniture. Her designs were popular and had a singular, unique style. Her aesthetic is beautiful and fascinating—I love her abstract designs—and I found myself going through the color plates several times. The book is a wonderful read, outlining Marx’s journey from her student days to being an industry leader. She is inspiring as a designer and as a woman navigating business in a world of men at the time. If you love history and want to discover her work (or rediscover if you’ve seen her work before) this is a great addition to your library.
What is your background as an artist? What led you to hand-printed design?
My mom is an art teacher. She taught my sisters and me to work with all sorts of media. She showed us that the process is the joy and not to worry about the final result. I took my first printmaking class at the Kansas City Art Institute when I was in high school. I later went to the Corcoran School of Art and Design to study fine art.
What was your mission in creating Yellow Owl Workshop?
Both with my books and my goods, my mission is to put creative options in the hands of others. I get a kick when people that don't normally make prints or have the confidence to just play with techniques write me to tell me how much they enjoyed my products to create pieces of their own.
Covering walls and upholstered furniture with bold geometrics, beautiful birds, and flamboyant florals, her work has stood the test of time. Florence Broadhurst’s designs are again in the public eye, this time licensed by Kate Spade, who has applied them to everything from shoes, tableware, playing cards and Vespa scooters. It goes to show that classic designs can make anything more beautiful.