Book Review: The Chronology of Pattern

Chronology of Pattern Unknown Unknown Unknown *Post by Manisha G. Harkins. 

The Chronology of Pattern: Pattern in Art from Lotus Flower to Flower Power by Diana Newall & Christina Unwin (A&C Black)


Mighty in content and vast in terms of coverage, The Chronology of Pattern is a remarkable reference book for the ardent pattern observer. Thankfully, it is also full of pictures. At its core, the book highlights the fact that decorative art and repeated motifs have suffused every era, culture and region — from prehistoric times to the present day. The wonderful intermingling of art forms, motifs, cross-continental ideas and changes that arose through process and evolution, translate to a timeless vault of inspiration for designers.

Alongside nature, I’ve always loved examining all sorts of cultural objects and artistic and architectural fragments as sources of inspiration, and my fascinations can change over time. That fickle imagination is what fires many a designer — making our work varied and intriguing. Perhaps the gold foil pattern on a ceremonial iron age helmet or scrolling arebesque on a fritware jug excite. Check either out in here.

With this book, it’s not just the pattern or piece of art that gets you going; it’s also their history. The book was invaluable when I penned my Textiles dissertation, sometimes cleverly refuting information in long established tomes. Yet it’s equally relevant now. Whether I choose to create a collection inspired by Assyrian reliefs, or need to research the religious symbols in the cloistered apse of a medieval church, there’s a good chance I’ll find images and an excellent grounding in this book. No wonder The Chronology of Pattern is so cleverly assembled: It’s the collaborative effort of an art historian and archaeologist-turned-designer.


Manisha Harkins is a recent textile design graduate with a love of screen-printing, texturing and colour.  Her long-held career as a design and lifestyle writer with hefty stints of prop styling have probably influenced her current path: that plus painting and drawing incessantly as a kid.  In between procrastinating and having way too many ideas, she is quite productive!

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

Featured Course

More Stories
Featured Designer: Sareka Unique