I don’t know how widely known this book is but I find it endlessly fascinating and I quite frequently pull it out for a quick browse even though I have seen all the images many times. I have had my copy for several years but it is still in print and I urge any artist who doesn’t already own a copy to try to obtain one.
For a description of the book I cannot do better than quote from inside the front flap,
The bark of a plane tree in Paris; a detail of a cotton towel in Japan; sunset in the Egyptian desert; soil in the Yosemite National Park, California; a tiled floor in Bangkok; a wall in Ferrara; an iron cart wheel in Antwerp…colours, textures, forms and shapes are the basis of this unique sourcebook that reveals the elements common to all design and literally teaches us ‘how to see’. Hauntingly beautiful and deeply instructive, it surveys our whole environment, natural and manmade, and shows how it can be defined in terms of basic elements: variable arrangements of dots; lines that are straight, curving, bending or crossing; planes such as rectangles, squares, lozenges, triangles and circles.
All these are represented, with telling juxtapositions, in a wide range of materials and techniques, in one sense timeless and universal, in another datable and culturally conditioned. Ever-recurring design elements, they take us to the heart of the creative process: a transformation that may involve inspiration or imitation, representation or interpretation.
Destined to become a cult book for artists, designers and craftspeople of all kinds, as well as being an important educational tool, this amazing volume is a startling reminder of how the search for something new is a voyage of rediscovery into past and present form.
The book contains 177 colour illustrations and here are a few images as they are shown on opposing pages.
Brick wall,Troyes, France. Detail of woollen kilim, Central Turkey.
| Woman's hat, Zulu people, Cotton bag, applique, China.|
| Drain covers, Antwertp, Belgium Detail of blouse,Tokyo, Japan.|