OK, this is what it says on the back of the book: “How to Read Pattern is a practical introduction to looking at and appreciating the decorative art of pattern in textile design. It is a lavishly illustrated guide to the use of pattern, exploring themes and motifs across a range of cultural aesthetics. Small enough to carry in your pocket and serious enough to offer real answers.”
I have a number of issues with this. Firstly, I think the word “lavishly” doesn’t sit well with something that’s six and a half inches square. Extensive, maybe, but this feels like something that’s been shoehorned into a format just for the sake of it. What you get is a lot (3 or 4 per page) of small reproductions of well-known and/or typical fabric patterns from oriental carpets to William Morris’s Strawberry Thief as well as modernist and psychedelic designs. Each of these comes with a short caption telling you what it is and the whole thing is arranged into groups of subjects and pattern types.
Why the pocket format? This is never something you’re going to cart round the shops or galleries and consult so that you can say, “Oh yes, that’s a landscape and those are stripes”. You’ll know that. If you want a history of textile design, you’ll buy something else, something that has room for decent-sized illustrations and text that has some meaning, not something that states what Basil Fawlty would refer to as “the bleedin’ obvious”.
As you’d expect from Black’s the quality of the illustrations is excellent, but save your tenner for a cup of tea and a Bath bun in the cafeteria.