Patternalia: An Unconventional History of Polka Dots, Stripes, Plaid, Camouflage, and Other Graphic Designs

Jude Stewart. Bloomsbury, $25 (160p) ISBN 978-1-63286-108-5
In this delightful romp through the world of textiles, Stewart (ROY G. BIV) shows how patterns crisscross the globe: fleur-de-lis, floral wallpaper, barber’s-pole stripes, tartan kilts, vast expanses of empire-conquering paisley, and onward to military stripes and camouflage. Stewart points out that humans have been making patterns and living with their soothing, repetitive nature since time immemorial. “Pattern connects the cool, abstracted world of science to the feverishly meaning-mad world of people,” she writes. Consider the history of spots and dots in medieval Europe, when people saw unevenly spaced dots as signifying “skin disease and moral uncleanness.” This book will convince readers that there is a fitting and suitable pattern for everyone, from the visually sedate and conservative (plaid, checks, and stripes) to the flamboyant, colorful bohemian (paisley, paisley, and more paisley). The appealing design of the book and innovative layout, which provides cross-references across chapters, help to make this a true treasure for readers interested in design or fashion. Illus. Agent: Jen Carlson, Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner Literary Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/22/2015
Release date: 10/13/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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