Repetition, Pattern, and the Domestic: Notes on the Relationship between Pattern and Home-making

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Repetition constitutes the very essence of pattern. Repetition is also the basis of our most ordinary actions. Repetitive gestures are usually so integrated in our lives that we tend to take them for granted. It is only when repetition is excessive or absent that we become aware of its importance to us. Not least because of their everyday properties, pattern and repetition are also closely related to the domain of the domestic. On the one hand, patterned artifacts, such as wallpapers, rugs, latticed curtains, and other fabrics seem to operate naturally as signifiers of an idea of domesticity, denoting privacy, comfort and, eventually, also seclusion and confinement. On the other hand, the repetitive rituals of pattern fabrication bear strong resonance with the traditional routines of household maintenance—cleaning, sorting, laundering, and so on. Not only are both dependent on a logic of continuous reiteration, but they also tend to be considered equally mindless and prosaic, as their processes are often rated inferior in comparison to less repetitive forms of production. In “Repetition, Pattern, and the Domestic” I investigate the foundations and implications of the identification between pattern and the home, drawing on material from historical, mythological, and psychological sources. This investigation aims to show how the repetitive mechanisms of pattern-making integrate the very dynamics of inhabitation, being essentially entangled, if sometimes inconspicuously, with the practice of spatial design.

Keywords: domesticity; pattern; repetition; spatial design

Document Type: Research Article


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Publication date: July 1, 2010

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  • Textile brings together research in textile studies in an innovative and distinctive academic forum for all those who share a multifaceted view of textiles within an expanded field. Peer-reviewed and in full-color throughout, it represents a dynamic and wide-ranging set of critical practices. It provides a platform for points of departure between art and craft; gender and identity; cloth, body and architecture; labor and technology; techno-design and practice— all situated within the broader contexts of material and visual culture.
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