The Seven Principles of Design: Pattern & Rhythm

How can something so repetitive be so intriguing? For ages, patterns have been a beloved staple of interior design, fashion, and art. Whether its colorful stripes on a lamp shade or twirling flowers on wallpaper, patterns offer a sense of visual excitement and rhythm to any home.
Patterns are groups of elements that repeat in a predictable or recurring way. According to Gestalt Theory, pattern can enforce feelings of closure and unity for viewers because of their repetitiveness.

However, patterns offer much more than you might think. Rhythm is perhaps the most important result of pattern. Rhythm is when elements are repeated or alternated in such a way as to provide a sense of movement.

There are several different types of rhythm. Random Rhythm is the grouping of similar elements with no regularity. This kind of rhythm is often found in nature, and they repeat with no rhyme or reason. Think of a flock of crows, a fall of rain, or the spattering of stars in the sky.
Regular Rhythm is most similar to the kind of rhythm we hear in music, because it has a steady beat. When a series of elements are placed at regular intervals (such as in grid form), they create a sense of steadiness and monotony.

Alternating Rhythm is when two or more elements are alternated, creating a more complex sense of rhythm. This can help offset the monotony of regular rhythm.

Flowing Rhythm is undulating, bending, and curving. Think of waves, streams, flowers, and wind through tall grasses. Flowing rhythm is often seen in art that seeks to imitate nature.

And lastly, Progressive Rhythm is when the elements change slightly every time they are repeated. This creates a sense of intrigue and keeps the attention of the viewer, as they seek to understand the evolved nature of progressive rhythm.

Whether they create a sense of chaos, movement, or consistency, pattern and rhythm are invigorating. They lead the eye and engage the viewer. Pattern and Rhythm add visual excitement, and they’re like music to the eyes!

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