The Chronology of Pattern || Diana Newall & Christina Unwin

Subtitled, “Pattern in art from lotus flower to flower power”, this is essentially a work of reference for the designer. The blurb assures us that it’s “a must on the reference shelves for all those working in the visual arts” and “useful for all artists who use patterns in their works”, which, I can’t help thinking, both generalises and limits it at the same time.

But no matter, it is what it is and there’s no denying that it’s a sumptuous book that’s had a lot of care in its production and both looks and feels marvellous.

The form of the book is chronological and covers artefacts of all kinds, flat, solid, paper, cloth, wood and more. The collection isn’t exhaustive and doesn’t set out to be; the authors’ objective is to provide a representative history of the use of pattern across forms and cultures and they do it admirably. Inevitably, everyone is going to have their own idea of what’s been omitted, but this is to miss the point. It’s about what Diana and Christina are telling you and the detail of their selection is as important as the point they’re trying to make.

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