Discover more from reFocused
The Moiré Pattern Series
...and how to build on past explorations
The Moiré Pattern Series was the first collection of patterns I launched on Spoonflower, and in many ways it exemplifies my creative process, what drives me on my visual explorations, and how I utilise and build on tools I developed in past careers for my pattern design practice now.
I’d known about interference patterns since the physics classes I attended in school and university. But those patterns, resulting from overlapping linear or circular wave patterns or line gratings, were very basic and not terribly exciting.
How exactly I came across the more interesting kinds of interference pattern I can’t remember now. Maybe I was looking through some tulle curtains billowing in a window, or through a woven lamp shade against a bright background (both are experiences I remember) and noticed some unusual shapes and curves emerging. Either way, I realised then that interference patterns can be a lot more interesting if the underlying gratings are not as regular as those wave patterns in the physics classes were.
As I am wont to do, I wondered what different combinations of gratings might look like, and I decided to explore this phenomenon in more depth. I wrote a piece of code that let me play around with the shape, size and position of two overlapping gratings and then save the result as a vector graphics file.
I was blown away with the patterns that emerged from these simple manipulations. They were so evocative of smooth, three-dimensional forms. The emerging curves and shapes were so dynamic and sleek, and yet they were just an illusion, a product of our perception of how the the two overlapping gratings interacted with each other.
That was about fifteen years ago, and at that time I used some of those Moiré patterns as subject matter for the large canvas paintings I was creating then. But after a while, and after a few more applications of the concept in different media, I moved on to other visual explorations.
In the following years, I did not think much about Moiré patterns. Until, after I quit my job to refocus on my artistic pursuits a few months ago, I discovered Surface Pattern Design as a vocation and suddenly was full of ideas for different kinds of patterns I could create. One of those ideas, of course, involved Moiré patterns. What if I could turn those patterns into repeat patterns that I could apply to textiles and wallpapers?
Of course, I still had that old software tool I had built to explore and produce my Moiré painting templates in the past. I set about to rework that code, making the underlying gratings continuous across repeating tiles, and thus producing seamlessly repeating Moiré patterns.
While producing a whole series of patterns intended for my new Spoonflower shop, I learned a lot more about the dynamics and limitations of Moiré patterns, as well as repeat patterns in general. For example, I generally prefer well balanced, continuous patterns in which the horizontal and vertical repetition of the motive is not so obvious. So I experimented with ways to obscure that rectangular repeat by using angled gratings, or rotating the whole pattern after rendering. With each of these developments, my tools got further refined and expanded.
This brief history of drandanArt’s Moiré Patterns reflects quite well how I typically go about my visual explorations and eventually turn them into some kind of art pieces, interactive web content, or now surface patterns. What I particularly appreciate is that some of those old tools that I developed for various reasons over the last few decades – the Moiré Patterns tool is just one of them – now find a new application in surface design. I had not anticipated that when I embarked on my ‘refocus’, but having this stash of visual concepts and software tools readily available really helped kickstart the development of my pattern portfolio.
Some of the designs featured in this post are among the 30+ Moiré Patterns available on Spoonflower, printed on fabrics, wallpaper, bedding or home décor items.
You can find out more about my Moiré Pattern Series on the drandanArt Website.
If you were forwarded this post and would like to receive future editions of reFocused yourself, subscribe here for free.