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Cultural Patterning - influences of mark making on textiles

"These designs were influenced by numerous areas of life from architecture, customs, dress, religious ceremonies, and creative traditions. Their style of mark making would often become a recognised emblem of their civilisation."

Have you wondered how a recognised pattern starts and defines a historic period or nationality? Patterns and repeated mark making was first depicted in cave paintings amongst many Neolithic cultures. Ancient civilisations from Egypt, Middle East, China, and India created hieroglyphics and patterns that reflected the world around them. These designs were influenced by numerous areas of life from architecture, customs, dress, religious ceremonies, and creative traditions. Their style of mark making would often become a recognised emblem of their civilisation.

The concept of cultural patterning is defined as a set of designs that have been developed by a community or social group and are powerful in shaping identity. These reoccurring inscriptions help to illustrate sacred stories and iconic leaders creating a sense of belonging and ownership amongst a group of people. This line making proclaims that this our land, these are our beliefs, this is our story.  

The adornment of interiors through pattern become popular and a status symbol during the 17th and 18th century. This decoration was typically via wallpaper and furnishings, and the type of pattern outlined cultural status. This could have been represented through design trends, and symbols such as family crests, laurels – anything that spoke of conquests that defined a group. Everyday activities also influenced pattern, and basket weaving, and decorative ceramics designs have been adapted to home textiles.

Our recent collection Folk Lore takes cues from nostalgic pattern, craft traditions, and textile design shaped by pastoral and nomadic groups untouched by the modern world. The design Sylvie depicts a flourishing paisley design with an almost frayed, hand sewn effect. The style is reminiscent of Suzani textiles originating from Central Asia, particularly from the silk road, and is defined by hand-embroidered patterns of flowers, fruits, foliage, and visages of the natural world.  Sylvie’s partner design Taru although not a traditional pattern, features an irregular dot design of varying intensities, creating a look for an ancient fabric that’s patinaed over time.              

Taru & Sylvie by Zepel

Taru & Sylvie by Zepel

This patina of a faded, hand dyed effect across the surface of both Sylvie and Taru also references the ancient technique Shibori. Developed in Japan, Shibori is a manual tie-dyeing process typically used for textiles that produces various intensities of the pattern, and watery soft edged forms across the surface. The technique involves knotting and binding sections of the cloth so colour cannot be exposed to certain areas. Once these sections are isolated, the fabric in dipped in the colour indigo later revealing the pattern created.   

Our Acacia collection takes inspiration from wattles that are native to Africa and Australasia. Synonymous with indigenous cultures, the wattle is a sacred plant that’s harvested for food, the creation of tools, healing ointments, a place of reflection and community gathering point. These rich associations inspired this geometric collection, taking cues from primitive patterns. The large-scale irregular diamond designs in earthy hues have the appearance of a tapestry with its ragged line work, imbuing a sense of a bygone era and rustic texture.   

The French inspired design Delphine celebrates romantic representations of the natural world taking cues from the Rococo art movement and ‘chinoiserie’ wall murals. These styles celebrated exsessive pattern and ornamentation in all art forms including furnishings, wallpaper and architecture.  Delphine adopts the whimsical outlook of these styles, with its farytail like, flourishing carnation pattern that cloesly resembles upholstery and wallpaper patterns in Versailles and French nobility households of that era.  

Preview design: development of Delphine from the Toulouse Collection

Preview design: development of Delphine from the Toulouse Collection

Pattern expresses more than just mere ornamentation, but can possess a rich cultural history that will add added dimenion to your interior. Curating a space filled with constrasting, layered meaning through pattern can also add dynamic and eclectic interior styling.   

As technology advances in all industries, we are thrilled to be able to deliver a digital tool to our customers that enables them to visualise their favourite fabric within a space – on a sofa, chair, or as curtains in a room.

Many people find imagining a new upholstered piece of furniture or set of curtains very difficult - this is referred to as the ‘imagination gap’. Zepel has created a visual solution to help close this gap.