Monday, March 17, 2008

Mixing Patterns

(Yeah, I'm procrastinating....)

I'm not sure my "vocabulary" is technically correct, so here's what I mean. All examples from Tricia Guild.


The next one is what I call an organic floral: the pattern is less seemingly random that a "true" floral and the flower or motif seems, somehow, highly stylised. I also called it a "silhouette" on Mella's blog). It looks like this:

I would not mix these. Personal preference. They "say" different things to me.

As well, I think of damasks as "florals" since I typically wouldn't mix them with a floral, unless, it were, say, wallpaper. But maybe I would if it were neutral enough.

Now, the fun.

To pick the next print, you have to decide whether you want to go larger or smaller than the first: and, generally one would mix a geometric: a check or a stripe.

I'm not sure about the scale of this stripe. If it is too big for the floral, or not:

This, too is a stripe: if only because the pattern is so vertical:

Now, for the check:


but NOT both.

So far, we have everything pretty much in one colour way: orange, green and yellow. But what colour do we truly love? That's where your solid comes in. It will tie the fabrics together, make it work as one expression, or another.

Shall we try green?

Doesn't the green make the pink pop? (So you'd choose green, not because you liked green, but because you love pink). But, it is almost too matchy, matchy. Still, it would be cheery!
How about orange?

I think the orange is too bright and I'm worried the dark grid lines in the green check will bring the whole look right down. I'm also not sure it's the right green. Colour is so hard to tell on computer monitors. The wide broad stripes, as I mentioned above may be too powerful for the floral.

Perhaps I should have chosen examples in black and white, but the last pattern mix illustrates something I learned from Lynette Jennings. It's a bit hard to explain. Look at the floral. Orange. pale pink, yellow and green plus a neutral gray. The stripes don't have any colour in common except the pale pink. The orange is in the same colour family, but it isn't a match. The chartreuse sort of melds the yellow and the green of the floral. That's why the orange solid bothers me: it should either match one of the two tones in the floral, or the orange of the stripe. Introducing a third is too much. Ditto the green: either the green of the floral or the chartreuse.

The other trick is using the right amount. Large patterns should be used for large pieces: duvet covers, maybe curtains, sofas (if you so inclined), maybe even floor cushions. Small and medium scale patterns can be used anywhere. But here's the thing--how much of a fabric will you use? What would be the proportions? Some can do this instinctively. Me, I enjoy watching my left brain and my right work together!

The combinations and permutation are nearly endless. You can mix two florals. Make sure one is large and the other small. Ditto stripes and checks. That's it. Just vary the scale. And if you do have two florals, mix in a check or stripe before introducing a solid. That way it will look deliberate and quite polished.

Check out The Designer's Guild web-site for excellent and bold pattern mixing. Analyse the colour, the scale, the type. It's fun.


zooza said...

Really interesting. I'll check out the Designers' Guild site as I've still got to finish my sitting room and it's the colour/pattern mixing which is putting me off.

lorijo said...

this was really interesting- I liked the green grouping. I've never been a big fan of patterns but recently they seem to be speaking to me more and more. I'll check out the website- thanks!

scb said...

Thanks so much for this! It will be helpful as I try to reconcile prints and patterns and things in my bedroom. I'll be checking out the Designers' Guide site as well.

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