Genue Inc.
October 15, 2015

Pattern Design Inspiration: Beautiful Bookshops

One of my very favorite places to get my work done and get inspired is an adorable little café-slash-bookstore near my apartment. It is the perfect place to escape to and have some me time. I get the peace and quiet I need to focus, and the cozy atmosphere feels like a home away from home. Do you know this feeling?

So many people can spend hours in bookshops, working, reading, or just getting lost among the shelves. I definitely count myself among them. Lately though, I’ve noticed something very interesting while leisurely perusing the stacks. Not only is the atmosphere of a bookshop inspiring, the place itself can be a great source of inspiration as well.

Bookshops- especially old ones have lots of character. There are so many wonderful sights, sounds and smells, to encounter!!

As pattern designers, we can find a surprising amount of visual inspiration in these amazing places.

Let’s start with the obvious; shelves of books! There are so many interesting colors, shapes and textures to be found. Remember, inspiration can come from the simplest things.

Maybe you catch sight of that perfect shade of vintage teal. Or perhaps you fall in love with the delicate curves of some beautiful calligraphy embossed on a spine. Does the weathered grain of the wooden shelves intrigue you? Are you inspired by the geometric lines created by all the books sitting together?

Bookshops are full of intriguing little details. Try taking the time to really look at everything in front of you, and pick out key details that you are drawn to. Collect as much visual information as you can, you never know what element will turn into a gorgeous design.

If you are looking to find a mood for your patterns rather than build motifs, try focusing on the non-visual elements of a bookstore. These are just as beautiful and inspiring!

Personally, I love the smell of a fresh cup of coffee next to me as I read or work. And everyone is familiar with that classic “old book smell.” You can try listening to the sounds around you- what do you hear? Pages turning, soft voices, some nice music? Maybe you like the feeling of pages turning between your fingers. What moods do these sensory experiences evoke?

We are moving towards a time where physical copies of books may disappear completely, and bookshops- especially old ones- are becoming more of a rarity.  I think this makes the charm and nostalgia of bookshops all the more special.

Bookshops are packed with rich, lovely visuals that can inspire designers like us.

Next time you go, turn off your wi-fi and take a look around! And if you still can’t find what you’re looking for? Books, like fabrics, are such tactile objects. Try picking up a book, cracking it open; maybe see how the stories inside can inspire you.

How are you using the sights, sounds, and scents of bookshops to inspire pattern designs?

pattern from open book pages

tulip print inspired by book spine

second print based on open book pages

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