PATTERNITY – an interview with Anna Murray by Sophie Joy Wright

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers, 

PATTERNITY is a creative organisation that encourages us to notice everyday beauty, one pattern at a time.

Starting as a well curated image-focused blog,  PATTERNITY has evolved under the direction of founders Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham to a design studio with a reputation for some of the best collaborations and events with the likes of The V&A, Nike, and Celine that show us the prevalence, inspiration and application of pattern in our world. 

I spoke to Anna about the philosophy and future of PATTERNITY.


Explain for me why you began PATTERNITY

PATTERNITY came about through a shared way of seeing the world despite our different backgrounds. Having studied fine art photography at Central Saint Martins and Brighton University, I started my career as an art director working on conceptual projects collaborating with the likes of Selfridges, Louis Vuitton, Save the Children and Honda in addition to self initiated art and photography projects. Grace graduated from Edinburgh College of Art, specialising in screen-printed textiles. Her focus and passion for hand-craft and traditional techniques attracted the attentions of global luxury brands to produce bespoke pattern and print commissions for fashion and interiors/product design luminaries and retailers including Alexander McQueen, Tom Dixon, Jil Sander and Selfridges. Upon meeting we realised that pattern was our common language and we soon realised our combined force, vision and drive to put our experience and skills to a more lasting and importantly worthwhile use. PATTERNITY not only became an outlet for all the research we had undertaken but it also helped us traverse many different disciplines. From the beginning we saw what we were doing as an open window to share our vision on encouraging a heightened perception and engagement with our surroundings. Crucially we also wanted PATTERNITY to serve as a platform to showcase work, blur boundaries and spread something inspiring and worthwhile – all the while challenging the perception and understanding of pattern worldwide.


What does your organisation do exactly? 

PATTERNITY is a creative organisation driven by the certainty that pattern is everywhere, from the mundane to the magnificent.  The work we do is grounded by the belief that a shared awareness of pattern has the power to positively engage us with our environment and each other. The PATTERNITY aim is to encourage everyone to be inspired by pattern found absolutely everywhere ‘to look at the world with a fresh set of eyes’. At the heart of all our projects lies the belief that a shared awareness of our environment and each other can have powerful and positive results. We use the omnipresence of pattern as a tool to encourage people to simply ‘notice more’ thus changing the way people see and engage with the world around them.


You started Patternity during a time when minimalism was esteemed in the design world, particularly in fashion. How do you avoid pattern being seen as a gimmick?  

PATTERNITY has evolved since we first set up the blog 2009. Grace and I had a firm idea that we wanted to change the perception of pattern so a simple blog was the most accessible way to stamp our authority and grow a (now 500,000 strong) community – which is at the heart of everything we do. For us, PATTERNITY first and foremost is about a way of thinking and being in the world – the philosophy of pattern opposed to purely the aesthetic. 

One of the things that sets PATTERNITY apart is our unique approach to something that already exists and on a very human and honest level. We don’t claim to have invented pattern we have just revisited it in an engaging and relevant way through our unique curation and approach. We also live in a time where much design very much lives on the surface and lacks integrity and meaning. At PATTERNITY we never put a pattern onto anything without first asking several key questions – does this pattern tell something interesting or important about the world in which we live beyond the surface? Does this pattern encourage a more positive connection to the world around us? Does this pattern draw attention to the bigger picture? All the work we do is heavily considered, each project and product has a meaning beneath the surface. I think these are important factors in our success to date and set us apart from a lot of the ‘pattern’ focused products and projects in existence.


How do you conduct your image research? Do you have sources or archives that you always use as a starting point?

What is posted in the research archive online is only the tip of the iceberg. Although the process of what we post from week to week is very much about intuition, the foundations to our research is firm – with an expertly organised and tagged image archive that ranges from science to art, fashion to nature, food and space. Since we began PATTERNITY we have never aimed to be 'of the moment' (but featuring fresh talent is very important to us), and although we are referenced often for trends, for us the research archives are an extension of our philosophy – encouraging people to think more about the world and their relation to everything in it. Our pattern curation brings together old with new, the mundane with the magnificent, the macro with the micro – it highlights the endless and intriguing coincidences that make up the world around us all, and uses sources as varied as NASA, National Geographic, and global fashion/photography agencies such as CLM and Frieze art fair. Where possible our research is conducted first hand, and we have a global network of specialist ‘PATTERN EXPLORERS' who fastidiously scour the world for patterns daily.


What are your most recent projects or collaborations?

Collaborations are fundamental to our working design process at Patternity, so we actively seek projects that enable us to merge our pattern innovation with iconic and specialist products and brands. Our latest fashion project, 'Streetshapes', is a collaboration with Pretty Polly and is a bold extension of our philosophy on celebrating pattern found even in the most banal of urban surroundings. The collection is inspired by the likes of drain covers, pavements and brick walls. We begun making hand screen printed tights (launched at Selfridges back in 2010) but the manufacturing process meant they were extremely expensive and highly limited edition. The PATTERNITY aim is to encourage everyone to be inspired by pattern found absolutely everywhere so it was really important for us that our products are accessible – collaborating with the ultimate tights specialists Pretty Polly has allowed us to spread this message.\t%20%22_blank


We have also recently launched our 28 piece knitwear collaboration with sustainable knitwear specialists Chinti + Parker – designing patterns that were inspired by the basic building blocks of the urban city that frame our everyday lives.

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What’s coming up for Patternity? 

We have just embarked on a two season project with the iconic British brand Clarks Originals – re-woking the iconic ‘Desert Boots’ with the a bold rearrangement of PATTERNITY circles, lines, triangles and squares for SS14 and AW14. We have also extended our ceramics range with ceramic expert Richard Brendon – our designs explore the history and culture of tea drinking and the notion of enlightenment and perception.

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Looking beyong this, how would you like the organisation to develop?

As we continue to extend the PATTERNITY philosophy through our research, studio projects and events, we plan to find new ways to use pattern as a way to inspire, explore and innovate – cementing our place as the world’s most forward thinking pattern specialists. We will be developing our design studio to work on further product innovation, sustainable design and consultancy projects. A huge part of PATTERNITY moving forward will be expanding our interdisciplinary events that boldly move our vision offline and into the real world reaching out to new, diverse and important audiences. We are currently working towards the second ‘PATTERN POWER BEINALLE’  as a month long exhibition in April 2015 with surrounding events. This is our ongoing series of pioneering educational events that explore the often overlooked impact of pattern on culture and it’s ability to further connect us to our environment and each other. (See their film "When Stripes Collide" from the first Pattern Power Bienalle 'SUPERSTRIPE', here

Our plan is to become the global destination for all things patterned… all the while inspiring a healthier sense of connection to the world and everything in it.




[All images courtesy of PATTERNITY]


Happy Saturday, 


Sophie Joy Wright