Repeating Patterns

Less is more, or is that what designers want you to think? In contemporary design there seems to be a large interest in bold, colorful patterns lately. These pieces can appear refreshing in the midst of a design world that at times appears cluttered with an over-stimuli of visual information. However, can works that appear stripped of complexity perform successfully?

This rug design by Dwell Studio is a great example of pattern in a contemporary view. The simple shape and color is reminiscent of 1970s minimalism. The rug is an eye catching success. This piece and many other contemporary patterns have been constructed on foundations laid during the mid-20th century. What is the theory behind designing in a minimalistic manner? By editing down their work, minimalists sought to find the essence of a medium. Through primary artistic elements, they were able to conjure up emotion with the most basic visual elements. Minimalist artist Dan Flavin is known for installing fluorescent lights to form compositions. Rather than building on a canvas, Flavin utilized light and atmosphere to convey emotion. Here, an everyday technology is manipulated into something sublime. Fluorescent tubes, objects we rarely acknowledge in our daily lives, become transcended when installed respectively in an environment.  The intense color has a profound visual impact. This impact is extremely versatile because it lacks concept or complex theories. 40 years later, Flavin’s piece appears contemporary to Dwell Studio’s pattern. Can the viewer better appreciate the placid magic of their presence because of their minimalism? In these two cases, yes. Simple line and color can be as effective as works vastly more complex.  With the assistance of repetition, color and line alone can acquire a powerful voice. In both pieces this voice emits confidence. Although the mediums and contexts of these pieces are extremely contrary, their approaches are communal. Dwell studio and Dan Flavin created successful pieces using only line, color, and repetition. Less can be more.


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