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Sunspel X Patternity: Behind the collaboration

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Earlier this year, we took up a special project with cult pattern specialists Patternity to celebrate London Design Festival this September. We were originally drawn by Patternity’s ethos of observing the patterns that make up everyday life. Their mindful approach to making  sense out of chaos and engaging with the everyday, were values that chimed so well with what we do here at Sunspel, that a collaboration felt like a great fit.

With our shared values in mind, we asked Grace and Anna to develop and curate a series of patterns sourced in and around Shoreditch. The area local to both our Redchurch Street store and Patternity’s HQ, provided a rich source of inspiration for patterns and textures as diverse as tree bark, paving slabs, concrete, fencing and brickwork, which were observed and curated for the project.

The resulting patterns and observations have now been turned into a photographic installation exhibited at Sunspel Redchurch Street during the London Design Festival. Our collection of limited edition prints vary from a stripe and grid and an exclusive Sunspel logo print.Taking old printing plates used in labelling in the past, the logo has been reinterpreted in a sketchy graphite rubbing designed exclusively for Sunspel, and hand-printed on our T-Shirts in a neighbouring workshop in Nottingham using traditional methods.

We sat down with Grace & Anna from Patternity to explore the ethos behind the collaboration and the importance of taking time to observes the little details that make the world around us.

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On the Origins of Patternity

Grace and I met through friends at university, she was at Edinburgh and I was at St Martins – united by our shared visual aesthetic, core values and drive to create something worthwhile with longevity. Pattern was our common language and upon meeting in early 2009, we soon realised our combined force, vision and drive to implement our skills. Crucially we also wanted PATTERNITY to serve as a platform to showcase work, blur boundaries and to share a positive message – to encourage ‘a new way of seeing’. PATTERNITY has since evolved from something visually engaging (an image archive and products) to a brand that goes far beneath the surface through consultancy, events and special projects with a core mission – ‘to use pattern research, design and experience to inspire positive living’. We have gone from an image archive to an entire organisation in just over 7 years. It’s been an exciting journey so far.

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On Patternity’s ethos.

Our research underpins everything we do at PATTERNITY. We are not just about patterns on the surface but all our projects dig deeper into the historical, scientific and theoretical importance behind patterns. We often start projects with quote of key statement. For ‘Everyday Simplicity’ we loved the quote by Albert Einstein ‘Out of clutter, find simplicity’ (we have this on the wall at the heart of the exhibition) we wanted to take concept of simplicity and attention to detail as our starting point. At London Design festival there can be such an abundance of ‘stuff’ that we really wanted to do something that would be visually beautiful but ultimately refreshingly simple both in concept and final output to launch during this time. We also wanted to convey a sense of tactility and engage people in a hands-on way.

On their respective disciplines

Our united areas of expertise- mine in art direction/photography, Graces in surface and textiles design have allowed us to work successfully across many disciplines – with pattern as our specialism. Today our roles are still defined with Grace doing the majority of design and myself working on more of the photography and art direction but we really come together at the concept and ideas and experimentation stages. It’s such a joy to bring our research to life through the projects we undertake.

On the inspirations behind the “Everyday Simplicity” project

Despite the fact we do a lot of different projects and implementation of pattern our interest at PATTERNITY really lies with the notion of simplicity. This really tied in with our perception of Sunspel as a brand, it’s attention to details, textures and simple shapes. It was interesting to find that despite being quite different brands there was a lot of crossover that was really fun to explore and celebrate through this project through different areas.

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On their approach in working with Sunspel

It was quite a journey arriving to the simplicity of the final project. Prior to arriving at the avenue of rubbings our concepts had been far bolder and much more geometric but it was really interesting collaborating with Sunspel and gradually learning more about the brand and how we could look at it through the PATTERNITY lens. Often the biggest challenge can be arriving at something simple but once we had thought about the idea of exploring pattern and tradition through rubbings the project flowed really naturally and tied everything together.

On taking inspiration from Redchurch Street

The beautiful thing about the Redchurch street area is that there are so many inspirational patterns once you slow down and look closely enough. It’s also an area where there is a really wonderful contrast between natural patterns – tree bark, lush green moss, leaves and dappled shadows come together with concrete textures of paving slabs, fencing and brickwork were observed and curated for the project.

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On the importance of taking time to observe your spaces

At PATTERNITY our fundamental aim is to promote the idea that absolutely everyone can find inspiration everywhere. We encourage people to be inspired by their surroundings, noting the beauty in the seemingly banal and contrasting the mundane with the magnificent. By looking beyond, up down and around and noticing the patterns that surround us wherever we go we believe we can gain perspective, remember our place in the now – positively engaging with our environment and each other. Everything we do is a celebration of this.

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In celebration of our new collaboration, Sunspel Shoreditch hosted it’s very own “rubbings workshop” where guests were invited to join us for a drink or two and try their hand at the graphite rubbing process that inspired our new designs.

You can find our limited edition T-Shirts online and in our Redchurch Street store

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