Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Repeat After Me

Spring means irisis are in bloom! Bunch them up
in a simple vase that highlights its beauty and color.

There is something to be said about strength in numbers. Imagine the splendor of a flock of birds crossing the skies, a school of fish, a field of buttercups. The beauty of all these lies in the power of repetition; which in design basically means a whole lot of the same thing, with or without subtle variation. Slightly hypnotic in character, repetition blurs the spaces between the elements involved. A dozen roses, a box of chocolates, polka dots, stripes, a drawer full of white socks. There are no surprises here, and the allure merely lies in the promise of more. 


More for less: Humble aluminum transformed to art. At right (detail shown below, center) is the Shadow Pavilion, a temporary art exhibition by Karl Daubmann in collaboration with John Marshall. According to the website, it "utilizes computer-generated architectural forms inspired by organic models to design site-specific structures that maximize utility while minimizing material and waste." Visitors can stand inside for shade and for the perfect visual frame to the botanical delights beyond.
Shadow Pavillion at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, MI

In the 1920s iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright introduced the idea of cheap and ugly concrete blocks as noble and modern architecture, to a flabbergasted audience. He stacked three-inch thick pre-cast concrete blocks one on top of another, in a seamless pattern that made it look like it was knitted together. The rest is history.

Repetition inviting tactile exploration: In the Ennis house shown above (detail of concrete block, right), Frank Lloyd Wright transformed cold industrial concrete to a warm decorative material.
The Ennis House, Los Angeles, CA

At home: If you have a precious collection of teacups, clustering them or displaying them all together in one place makes more of a statement than scattering them all over your house. Likewise, you can build on something as simple as an inexpensive candle simply by having a lot of them in one color but in different sizes, clustered in one space. Repeat colors in a room to achieve unity and cohesiveness. Create emphasis or showcase something by setting it against a backdrop of repeating elements.

Wine Bottle Chandelier, $399, Pottery Barn,

 In this photo, a simple square mirror is repeated for impact and the teal color is repeated on the pillows and on the area rug for unity. 
Photo credit: Crate and Barrel,