History of Surface Design: Art Deco

Series on the history of surface design by Julie Gibbons


When I was a teenager I cottoned onto Art Deco style and loved it for its symmetry and its opulent glamour. It was glorious in its stylised waterfalls, sunbursts and geometry, and was epitomised for me in the monumentality of the local cinema with its dual staircase and velvet furnishings. Even the air vents there were covered in a patterns of spirals and zigzags.  And perhaps it’s just me having a thing about geometric styles of recent times, but I think I’m starting to see bits of Art Deco style everywhere.

Art Deco emerged firstly as an architectural style around the 1920s, as a reaction to much of the romanticism of Art Nouveau, and was influenced by art movements such as Cubism, Modernism and Futurism. It extended into the decorative arts shortly after, particularly in building details like decorative window grills, door panels. ceiling moldings and more. Designers such as Edgar Brandt (a blacksmith who started out designing weapons for the French military) excelled with this new vocabulary, which celebrated the slickness and speed of the machine age and mass production. It incorporated many machine-like motifs including cogs and gears, and was obsessed with heroic geometry, using motifs of spheres, cubes, chevrons, squares and more in seemingly endless symmetrical combinations. Even organic motifs such as flowers, leaves and water were reduced to stylised versions of themselves.

Textile design complemented the architecture and the other decorative arts. It was strongly rhythmic, achieved through bold motifs and tight repeats. Colour too was bold; it was most often flat, with strong contrasts in clean shapes. It was experimental as well, and colour was often layered in an exploration of optical effects on 2D surfaces. Designers such as Sonia Delaunay and Raoul Dufy were well known for their distinctive takes on the genre, driven by their own interests in abstract painting, colour and form.

Art Deco as a style was sophisticated and sexy, streamlined and orderly. It was incredibly popular at its height, and remains influential today.

PO - art deco{images clockwise from top left: 1. wallpaper sample – unknown designer, http://powerhousemuseum.com;  2. furnishing fabric, Marion Dorn, http://collections.vam.ac.uk; 3. dress fabric, Charles Falls, http://collections.vam.ac.uk; 4. furnishing fabric, F Gregory Brown, http://collections.vam.ac.uk; 5. furnishing fabric, Betty Joel Ltd, http://collections.vam.ac.uk; 6. furnishing fabric, F Gregory Brown, http://collections.vam.ac.uk; 7. wallpaper sample – unknown designer, http://powerhousemuseum.com}


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Designing on the iPad with Naila Malik

Each month in the Textile Design Lab we welcome an industry expert who offers training in their area of expertise. Naila Malik is a British textile designer and lecturer and we are delighted to welcome her back for her second stint as a guest expert in the Lab (she was also our guest expert in February 2014 when she provided training on creative sketchbooks.) You can read more about Naila in our interviews here and here. Below you will find a short excerpt from Naila’s training on designing on the iPad, including some of her favorite apps for sketching and creating mood boards. Join us today in the Textile Design Lab to access the full tutorial!

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Become a member of the Textile Design Lab for an in-depth look at how Naila creates artwork and mood boards for her textile designs on the iPad. TDL membership is just $42/month and in addition to our monthly guest expert tutorials you also will receive access to our private forum, seven different e-courses, fun design challenges and lots more exciting and helpful content to get your textile design career off the ground. You can read all about it in our updated curriculum guide or visit textiledesignlab.com to learn more! 

Jamie Kalvestran’s Native Pine Collection

Native Pine table topper-wall quilt
You may know Jamie Kalvestran as the ever-friendly voice of the Pattern Observer inbox and helpdesk, but she is also an accomplished product designer, published illustrator and even has three design patents to her name! As owner of Jamie Kalvestran Design, Jamie creates artwork for application on a wide range of products, and specializes in color and trend forecasting and developing “original print patterns and artwork that your customers will love.” Jamie both licenses and sells her artwork and is “bringing her inspirational designs into textile, quilting, home fashions, sporting goods and personal accessories.”
Jamie’s lovely Native Pine Collection for Quilting Treasures is shipping to shops this month, and her Native Pine table topper/wall quilt will be available as a free download pattern on the Quilting Treasures website.


Inspiration & Process for the Native Pine Collection

“The inspiration for my Native Pine Collection stems from a favorite childhood memory.

Behind my grandparents home stood a mighty white pine on a small hill. Under the tree was a bed of pine needles and moss littered with pinecones, this soft and cozy spot beneath it’s boughs was a treasured playground. So treasured in fact, that to this day I showcase a glass lamp in my home filled with pinecones from that very tree.

The first step in the making of this collection was to paint a large watercolor painting. This served as the foundation for the development of the rest of the pieces.

The color palette was determined by keeping a keen eye on color trends in the home decor and apparel markets. I then selected colors from those trends colors that I hope give you a hint of what it was like to sit on that magic carpet of moss, giggling with my sisters, while plucking the petals from flowers, all the while inhaling the fresh sweet scent of white pine.

I hope you enjoy working with this collection as much as I enjoyed creating it for you!”


Find Jamie online at:

Have a wonderful weekend!


Is your eye drawn to the colors and patterns you see on clothing or in home decor? Do patterns fill your doodles, drawings and artwork? You could make money in the textile design industry. Get our FREE video training today!

Quilt Market Interview: P&B Textiles

Post by Jamie Kalvestran, part of a series of interviews from the 2015 International Quilt Market. (Previous interviews found here: Part1Part2Part3Part4, Part5.)


While at Quilt Market I was excited to meet and interview the folks at P&B Textiles. I had the opportunity to speak with both Marion Murray and Katerina Alexakos.


What are the new P&B collections that you are really excited about?

1. Love In Bloom - this digitally printed fabric collection was guest designed by P. Carter-Carpin, an artist and book illustrator. We choose some pieces of her Original artwork, then built the collection around it, utilizing artistic elements to create the coordinates. The colors in this collection are so vibrantly colored that we chose to print this collection digitally, instead of traditional screen printing, which just wouldn’t do the color palette justice. Love in Bloom arrived in shops in June 2015.



2. Joy of Life – Inspired by a fine artist from France, Sylvie Demers, Joy of Life is another digitally printed fabric collection. The artist states, “Inspiration comes easily. Just looking outside the window in my studio, nature is giving me all the reasons to be joyous! Beauty is blooming all year round in my backyard!”  4 SKUs total this collection set to be released in July 2015.



3. Contours was designed in-house and is a modern floral collection created from organic elements. Leaves overlapping in a modern color palette of grey, coral and gold set the theme for dots and dashes to playfully coordinate. Packed flowers work well with this tightly coordinated grouping where any and all can be mixed and matched to create a lovely modern yet classic Quilt.



Can you tell me more about digitally printed fabrics? You have branded your digitally printed fabrics “Next Generation”. Can you tell our readers why you choose to print some collections digitally? 

The digital printing process allows the multiple layers and myriad of colors to show themselves to their best and brightest advantage, as traditional printing can’t do. With our traditional printing methods we are limited to 18 colors, with digital printing the number of colors is unlimited. With highly saturated colorations and designs not requiring the limitations of repeat or number of colors, this allows us to freely create designs we would not normally be able to.


Can we talk about trends and how you use trends at P&B?

We have the philosophy of “Know your customer” and “Know your company image”. We think colors should work with home decor colors because quilts live in homes. There is usually a one to two year delay from when the home decor colors are trending. Our customer expects us to have a wide variety of basics, blenders and textures. Along with that we are a more “transitional” design based company blending modern and traditional looks.


Please tell us about your submission process for designers. 

Designers can contact me via email (marionmurraypb@gmail.com) directly with a link to their website where I can see their style and technique. If we like what we see, we will be in touch.


What type of artwork are you currently looking for?

• Modern

• Sophisticated

• Tonal

• Textural


What advice would you give designers regarding their portfolios?

Make sure it works in other industries. You will want to broaden into other categories i.e. dinnerware, gifts and stationery etc.


Visit P&B Fabrics online at http://www.pbtex.com/ and on Instagram @pbtextiles.


Sign up to receive Part I and II of our free Quilt Market Guide HERE. 


Catarina Guerreiro and The Ultimate Guide to Repeats

We are gearing up for The Ultimate Guide to Repeats (UGTR) group study which starts on Monday, July 20th, in the Textile Design Lab, and this week we are excited to share the work of some of our talented grads! On Monday we featured Carolyn Gramlich and today we hope you enjoy a few of the beautiful repeats that Textile Design Lab member Catarina Guerreiro created in the class.
Catarina writes, “my main goal was to create the best possible flow in my repeats, to create balanced and interesting layouts within the different techniques taught in the course.

I found the UGTR course fantastic – definitely a must do for everyone who wants to master technical repeats. It gave me the skills to develop repeats with ease, from simple set layouts, to more complex free flow designs. I learned how to effectively translate my artworks into solid, balanced and interesting repeats and how to prepare them for printing accurately.

Mastering repeats is fundamental for the success of your print – making sure the repeat is balanced and doesn’t have any spacing issues or unintentional directionality is very important.

“Pattern design is not about a single motif but about the whole, the balance of the composition, and the UGTR will help you developing the right skills for the job.”


Find Catarina online at catarinaguerreiro.com and on Instagram and Pinterest.


Join us for the Ultimate Guide to Repeats group study, starting Monday, July 20th, in the Textile Design Lab! Membership is just $42/month and comes with access to six additional e-courses, a members-only forum, regular webinars where members can ask questions about the surface design industry and receive artwork critiques, guest expert trainings, design challenges, and lots more exclusive content. Learn more…

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At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and private design community, The Textile Design Lab.