Featured Designer: Elisa Cox


Today we are excited to feature the work of designer Elisa Cox. Elisa went to school at the Kansas City Art Institute and majored in Illustration. In her junior year, she “became obsessed with making patterns and creating chaotic images that were not only handmade, but graphic and usable in surface design, layout design, and general creative expression. I grew up near beaches and this is a huge influence on my color choice, imagery, and aesthetic. Normal life items often pop up in my work, such as fruit and food!”


“Many of these designs started in my sketchbook and often evolve into digital landscapes. I try to use as many mediums as possible to test cohesive visual elements. Often I use paint markers, collage techniques, ink, and digital manipulation to create my work. Pattern is a base in my creating process, and this group of work is an example of a variety of ways to utilize pattern.”


I am really drawn to the unique way that Elisa incorporates texture and vibration into her work. The layering of motifs, various techniques and textures make her patterns “dance” and are such a visual treat! You can see more of Elisa’s work at Elisacox.com.


Found Patterns: Scaffolding


Images via: (clockwise from top left)  “Scaffolding” by tup wanders “Scaffolding” by Brett Weinstein “Scaffolding supporting false building facade, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin” by Metro Centric “Scaffold” by KARL-SEBASTIAN SCHULTE “Scaffolded Bay” by Bill Stilwell “Magpie Scaffolding” by Kevan “Scaffolding” by Tom Godber (all images cropped from original sizes)

“Kimono Design: An Introduction to Textiles and Patterns” by Keiko Nitanai

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Kimono Design: An Introduction to Textiles and Patterns is a 300 page treasure trove of pattern inspiration, featuring kimono and other elements of traditional Japanese dress, both old and new. All of the designs featured in the book come from the collection of the Kyoto Antique Fabric Preservation Society, an organization founded by the book’s author, Keiko Nitanai.

The book is organized neatly by season–Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter–and gives fascinating descriptions of the origins, symbolism and historical use of motifs ranging from cherry blossoms to landscapes; swans to musical instruments; ships, fans, dogs, bridges, and everything in between.

The photographs in the book (many full-page) are breathtaking and show pattern, dye, and stitching in exquisite detail. But the tidbits of text that accompany the photos are equally as absorbing. One of the many interesting things I learned from my reading was the meaning behind a ubiquitous Japanese motif that I had always wrongly assumed was purely geometric/decorative. You will probably recognize asanoha immediately as it has been re-interpreted a thousand times over. Reading about the motif in Kimono Design, however, gave me an entirely new appreciation and curiosity for geometric designs that upon first glance may appear simply decorative, but in reality are infused with meaning and history. A humbling reminder to always dig a little deeper and not take a design at face value! Here is an excerpt:

“Before cotton was introduced to Japan in the seventeenth century, hemp was used to make paper and as a fiber crop for clothing. Many kimono designs portray hemp as an attractive plant, usually in the form of geometric motifs. For example, the hemp leaf pattern asanoha (from asa meaning “hemp” and ha meaning “leaf”) is made up of six diamond shapes representing the six pointed leaves at the top of a hemp stem, laid out to form a six-pointed star. The regular geometric pattern, while abstract, represents overlapping hemp leaves. The pattern, and its numerous variations, can be combined with other seasonal motifs or used as the main design on a garment.

Because hemp represents growth and good health, the asanoha pattern was often used on children’s and babies’ clothes and underwear in the hope they would grow up to be as strong as hemp. Kimono bearing the asanoha design can be worn all year round, not only in winter.”

Fascinating, no?

Whether you are seeking a dose of history with your surface design, or simply wanting to be visually stimulated and inspired, I highly recommend checking out Kimono Design. -Chelsea

Featured Designer: Jessica Jones

Retro surface designer prints

Jessica Jones is a graphic designer specializing in brand identity design and surface pattern design, and we just love her crisp and bold style! Jessica is drawn to graphic shapes and cheerful colors, and she is an admirer of midcentury modern and Scandinavian design–those aesthetics inspire a lot of my patterns. My prints are often used to upholster vintage-inspired furniture or in garments with retro style.”

Scandinavian fabric prints

“Besides surface design, I also create brand identities and logos for businesses. The process of distilling something complex into simple, symbolic shapes is a challenge I enjoy, and this shows up in my surface patterns as well as my logos. Reducing a flower or animal to its simplest form is really satisfying.”

Cloud print fabric pouch

Jessica grew up in Minnesota on a dairy farm, where she describes spending “lots of time drawing pictures and zero time milking cows. At the University of Minnesota I planned to be a science major but eventually ditched chemistry and calculus to get a Design Communication degree. First I worked at a corporate in-house creative department, then at a Chicago design firm. Eventually I left and started my own graphic design business.”

Jessica Jones Typography fabric

“For many years I ran a blog design and craft blog called How About Orange (www.howaboutorange.blogspot.com), and at one point, a reader contacted me asking if I could design a fabric collection for her to sell in her shop. I happily agreed to take a stab at it, and that project with J Caroline opened the door to other surface pattern work.”

Skunk and flower ribbon

Today I regularly design for Cloud9 Fabrics, Renaissance Ribbons, and various manufacturers who make products ranging from wallpaper to pots and pans to apparel. I’ve spotted my prints on products sold at Target, Nordstrom, Zappos, Land of Nod, and Modcloth. My favorite thing is seeing what people make with the fabrics and ribbons I design. It’s always a little thrill!”


Visit www.jessicajonesdesign.com to see more of Jessica’s lovely work. Enjoy!

A Fresh Bunch


These beautiful pieces came to us from A Fresh Bunch. A Fresh Bunch will be showing their work at Blueprint, a new show held in this month in NYC. The agency represents some of the most talented artists in the industry and it is a joy to share their work with you today.

“What started as a loose collection of designers looking to focus more on design than production and marketing has become a full-fledged art licensing agency called A Fresh Bunch. We represent women artists of all stripes from around the world, and we design for every type of product imaginable, though stationery and paper goods remain our strong suit. 

Having a stable of 15+ artists connected by technology allows us to work quickly and efficiently and balance work/life commitments more easily. Our entire team, as well as many of our artists, are moms and we love that we are helping them nurture their passion while also contributing financially to their families.”

Heading to Blueprint? You can book a meeting with A Fresh Bunch here. You can also find out more information on their website.






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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.