The Handbook of Regular Patterns – An Introduction to Symmetry in Two Dimensions by Peter S. Stevens; MIT Press Cambridge, MA & London, England. Sixth printing 1999, first published in 1981. ISBN 0-262-69088-8 (paperback)
With another snowy day and roads that are difficult, even impossible to navigate I find myself housebound and desperate to escape the dreaded cabin fever virus, that so often overruns the prairies this time of the year. My resolution for the day: to ignore the falling snow as much as possible when moving from the house to the studio. Success! Not another grey day will influence my creativity. I am focused!
Heading straight to the library in search of one of my favorite design books I soon lay my hand on The Handbook of Regular Patterns. If you are familiar with the title you might ask “Why this book?” The book is devoid of color, it has no tropical images, suggestions of warmer climates – it is a book steeped in mathematics which I avoided whenever I could during my school days… I have come around: Peter S. Stevens’ book is a page turner!
The introduction of the book dissects the origin of pattern. Black and white images of natural materials are divided into point groups covering asymmetric motif, bilateral symmetry, triskelion and cross shapes. He moves from symmetry groups to point groups, devotes eight chapters to line groups and a whole seventeen chapters focus on the plane groups. Once you are immersed in the images, examples and suggested exercises you forget all about the lack of color!
The book jacket states: “Most books classify patterns according to motif or historical period. This handbook takes a different approach; it explores the structural anatomy of patterns, showing how their parts interrelate. It demonstrates to designers and artists the limitless variations that can be played upon a few fundamental patterns and structural arrangements. …”
The author has compiled illustrations from textiles, pottery, brickwork, mosaics, the natural world and even architectural plans. If you have been fascinated by M. C. Escher‘s drawings this is a book to explore. Stevens presents the patterns in such a way that they are easy to understand. He arms the reader/student with the knowledge and tools to create their own Escher inspired tesselations.
Eduard F. Sekler, Professor of Architecture, Harvard University (at the time of the sixth printing) had this to say: “Peter Stevens has assembled an extremely extensive and visually fascinating collection of regular patterns from many cultures and periods. The book should be of considerable interest to any practitioner in the area of two dimensional design.”
Peter S. Stevens is a registered architect, practicing artist and author of “Patterns in Nature“, another great reference for aspiring and seasoned designers alike. Both books have become collector items but are well worth the investment if you have a passion for design.
Hope your day is filled with sunshine and warmth – if not, cocoon yourself in your creative space and try your hand at tesselations and pattern repeats. Time will fly – Enjoy!