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How Patterns Connect Our World

In the 'Patternity' archive, the world is made of stripes and dots and squares and waves.
© Jeremy Woodhouse at Getty / SCANDEBERGS. All images courtesy Patternity.

Enter the keyword “stripe” in the Patternity archive, and a medley of images line up in a grid—a striped octopus, a close-up of sunflower seeds, shadows on a wall, a bathing suit, painted canvases, and hundreds of other nature, fashion, art and architecture photographs appear on screen. The pattern archive was started in 2009 by the London-based photographer and art director Anna Murray and surface/product designer Grace Winteringham, and today contains 5,000 images that are searchable by pattern type, color, material, location and date. The photographs are compiled by the duo and their research team, who also curate contributions sent by others.


© Neil Watson / Kate Jackling

“Searches for simple patterns are the most eye-opening, as we can see how the same patterns reoccur, both naturally and in man-made objects, throughout the world and universe time and time again,” Anna Murray tells The Creators Project. The project looks to make connections between disparate subjects, and functions as a creative resource for a host of professionals, including many major fashion design houses and studios. “However we have many people who use it from outside of the fashion/design world, from scientists to wellbeing professionals who use the imagery to educate and instruct, and who share our vision and understanding that the world is connected by pattern.”

© Rob Low / Neil Bedford

Patternity operates both a research arm and a studio, and the latter has produced a variety of projects related to pattern with collaborators like Apple, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the BBC. Recently, they worked with the Imperial War Museums “on a special project to tell the story of the iconic dazzle patterns that were used on First World War ships to disguise and distort their appearance,” says Murray. At the 2015 London Design Festival, Patternity held a festival of pattern, including pattern-spotting field trips and pattern-making workshops, and celebrated the release of their book A New Way of Seeing. Check out some images from their archive below:

© NASA Goddard space flight / Andrew Vowles

Festival of Pattern at London Design Festival. Photography by Lilian Hess.

Festival of Pattern at London Design Festival. Photography by Lilian Hess.

Festival of Pattern at London Design Festival. Photography by Lilian Hess.

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