The Inherent Power of Pattern


As both an interior and surface pattern designer I have created, specified, and sold textiles for many years now. With my interior clients, the moment I pull samples out of my bag their eyes light up. It’s exciting for them to imagine how a textile (combined with other products, of course) could change their space for the better. Textiles and surface pattern designs have power!

Interior textiles, and the subsequent stitching they always require, are expensive. I am well aware of the commitment it requires to make a decision about a design scheme, which is why I always wait for “the gasp”. It can be the fabric they reach for first or the reaction when we set the scene, but it’s audible and clear if we have hit the mark or not. I know we can make any room a success if my client loves a textile enough before we’ve even begun.

If we miss the mark, we go back again until we find the right mix. We want that great reaction because it’s proof positive that our client is buying into the design and not just agreeing because they don’t know how to say “no”. More often than you can imagine, it’s too hard for clients to verbalize what they might prefer instead, so they remain quiet. I see it as my job to help them figure it out.


As a textile designer, I don’t yet produce my own line of fabrics for interiors (I’d love to do this, someday). I generally license my work to manufacturers. The products are often from markets outside of interiors (stationery, gift wrap, packaging), but the goal is very much the same. When I show my work, I want to evoke a response that tells me I’m on the right track. If I’m not getting it, I go back to the drawing board until I do. I work hard to keep almost every design, even the coordinates, worthy of a great reaction.

Interior design materials are layered on top of one another. Lee Jofa printed fabric with blue, yellow, red, and green botanicals. Solid off white chenille, solid blue twill, pink and red check, and blue fringe trim.


At the beginning of my career in surface design, I was super happy to make seamless repeats with no breaks or lines. Now I won’t put a pattern out into the world that I’m not super proud of. I am brutally honest with myself because the truth is, it has to evoke an emotional response from me first. If I don’t love it, why would I expect that someone else will?

I make art and repeat patterns that are evocative and soulful. My number one goal is to elicit an emotional response. Surface patterns can be the difference that sells a product or attracts someone to a display.

Case in point: Melissa Schulz of Branded Licensing, in a presentation for the Textile Design Lab/ Pattern Observer, shared that a sock manufacturer created a huge display of socks in various patterns. At the very bottom were the black and white options. By far and away, the most socks he sold were all black or all white. In his view, the patterned designs were well worth the investment because of the differentiation they provided him on the sales floor. Everyone sold black and white socks. He gave the buyers a reason to stop, and made it easy to order black while they also purchased a few patterns.

I’ll say it again. Patterns have power! If you create a product line and want to harness the power of pattern, let’s talk. Click here and get in touch. Alternatively, you can email or call me too.



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