on my bookshelf: “Quiet Patterns”

Bird and Pomegranate (William Morris)

Two things are happening in our homes these days: we are back in love with wallpaper (It seems we were afraid of it for a while) and we are taking a holistic approach to designing our houses and decorating our rooms. That is to say, we are interested in beauty and our overall well-being. Of course I couldn’t be more pleased. But honestly it is Abigail Edward’s newly published book Quiet Patterns: Gentle Designs for Interiors that really got my mind going on this matter. In it she argues (softly) that, when incorporated properly, pattern (many of which are derived from nature and childhood images reminding us of the countryside or secret garden or enchanted forest of our youth) has the power to transform a space and to soothe our weary modern souls.


Edwards, who has written extensively about interior design but was not always enthusiastic about pattern, grew to love it and began creating it herself. In the opening section of her book she takes us back to the Arts and Crafts movement, specifically to William Morris and his followers who believed that the decorative arts and craftsmanship were just as important as the fine arts. They were looking for a quiet, simpler lifestyle as they created art that embodied this philosophy. Ms. Edwards shares this artistic sensibility.

Wallpaper and Fabric design by Abigail Edwards photographed by Alun Callender
Secret Garden Wallpaper in Twilight designed by Abigail Edwards photographed by Alun Callender

One of the things that sets this book apart from other design books is the exploration of the creative process (from idea to production). After Edwards describes her own, she introduces us to the processes and work of other designers. This is a subject that has always fascinated me, and is often very difficult to articulate, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the stages and steps involved with creating patterns, and how each artist approaches design and production quite differently.

The designers that I was drawn to the most were Emma von Bromssen and her delicate botanical renderings and Hannah Nunn with her grasses and meadow flower prints made from silhouettes and paper cuts (especially her commission from The Bronte Parsonage which resulted in Charlotte’s Garden, pictured below).


In the final section of the book, Edwards offers sound practical advice and examples for incorporating pattern into our everyday life. She believes that when we bear in mind concepts like layering, tonal matching, and giving pattern room to breathe, it can bring unity and harmony to a space and to our lives.

With this book, Abigail Edwards thoughtfully reminds us of the truly poetic quality of making a home.

Abigail Edwards, Designer & Stylist at Home

ps–this is Abigail at home with her dog, whom I imagine is very jealous these days because I have heard that Abigail just had twins.  Very busy lady for sure!

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