An Unconventional History of Polka Dots, Stripes, Plaid, Camouflage, & Other Graphic Patterns

Book - 2015
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We wake up in the morning and put on our striped socks and our plaid shirts, sit down to breakfast at a gingham tablecloth, perhaps eyeing the wallpaper with its fleur-de-lis. Patterns are everywhere--yet they can go unnoticed. In fact, every pattern is a story, a surprisingly deep trove of historical information and cultural associations.

Jude Stewart, author of ROY G. BIV : An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color , brings her same sprightly sense of humor, sparkling personality, and roving curiosity to this cultural history of patterns. From camouflage to keffiyeh, plaid to paisley, slipping out of the Carmelites' scandalously striped mantle and into an itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny yellow polka-dot bikini, Patternalia plumbs the backstories of individual patterns, the surprising kinks in how each developed, the parallels between patterns natural and invented, and the curious personalities these patterns accrue over time. Boldly designed by Oliver Munday and cleverly cross-referenced, Patternalia is pure pattern pleasure: a beautiful object and a dazzling read that will appeal to anyone interested in design, fashion, and the cultural history buzzing all around us.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury USA, 2015.
ISBN: 9781632861085
Branch Call Number: 745.4 STEWART
Characteristics: 145 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm


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Apr 27, 2017

Excellent in terms of interesting facts, not so much in terms of illustrations. Surprised? I sure was. Many of the pictures exist as whimsical backdrops for quotations. When you expect to find pictures which actually illustrate a pattern unfamiliar to most readers, it is lacking. For instance, reference is made to striped Kente cloth, but no illustrations (ironically, there is an example of a bar code - how likely is it that a reader hasn't seen one of these?); same is true of adrinka squares and kanga, among others. I found it rather frustrating. Is that why it is an "Unconventional History"? Lack of actual illustration?

Also, a decision appears to have been made somewhere along the line to produce it in a format that might appeal more to millennials: somewhat like a ebook with references to other pages to divert to. This would actually be more than appropriate for an ebook, but not so much for a hardcover.


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