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1. OBJECTIVES statement of intent To prove, by taking a commonly known Brazilian textile as a basis of my research, how a pattern can represent a country and its people, influence and be influenced by its culture and traditions. field of study The project overlooks the inter-relationship between a country’s image, its visual identity and cultural traditions. It will be divided into two parts and each part looks into a different field of study as follows: 1. T  he first part is the research in which will enable me to gather information, explore, analyze and edit it so it became a sequence that can be transformed into a visual narrative. It is the curatorship part of the project that will later on be showed as an exhibition to the public. Field of study: Design Studies: design culture, politics, theory, criticism, history and writing. 2. The second part is the final outcome, the exhibition in itself in which I will have to review what was found in the first part and develop it into a user-centred design which communicates the key elements, is informative, imaginative and innovative. Field of study: User-centred Design: Information design, notation, translation and interaction.

2. BRIEF focus Research the history of textile and pattern production in England, Brazil and the rest of the world and see how one influenced each other. The idea is to firstly map out the visual differences and similarities between patterns from different countries and try to understand what cultural associations were made and passed on to its people. context Patterns can be found everywhere: from clothes to wallpaper, bedspreads to notepads and objects to architecture. They form part of our everyday life ‘surrounding us continuously as we observe the objects in our world and we begin to see regularity in them. At every moment and on every side, patterns of varying size, colour and definition encircle us. Pattern can be purely ornamental - a pleasing decoration - or it can have enormous religious and cultural significance, saving us from demons and promoting good fortune. Throughout history patterns have used symbolic motifs, specific colours and well established designs to give meaning and continuity to the message they contained.’ (Cole, 2003:12)

But what makes a pattern from being a simple repetition to become something traditional, something that carries meaning rather than only form? According to Sharrad and Collet (2004:51), a traditional textile conveys as much information about its creator as well as for whom it was created, Michael Lin, Grind, 2004 Emulsion on wood (1600 x 650 x 390cm)

View of installation PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York in Patterns in Design, Art and Architecture,

‘the materials used and the weight and texture of the cloth tells us the geoclimatic conditions in which it was made. The woven motifs and the use of colour convey the origins of the people, their cultural history and their beliefs. In some societies such a textile announces the status of the user - whether they are single, married or widowed and to which ethnic group they belong’.

fig. 1 ‘Brazil’ Google Search

To understand this we first have to define what I mean by culture. The Oxford American Dictionaries affirms that ‘culture’ is ‘the customs, arts, social institutions and achievements of a particular nation, people or other social group’. And to be able to understand the culture of a multicultural country such as Brazil will not be an easy task. So why are we able to make some associations between a specific pattern and the country were it was originated, or rather, a country which it represents? This might be the case when we are more aware of a country’s culture and because of this have a set of visual, predefined images that we relate to its identity. To comprehend these images we might look back at our personal memory or even those portrayed in books or films. They should have a meaning behind them and shouldn’t be as shallow as clichés.

fig. 2 ‘Japan’ Google Search

country. It is also true to say that the Brazilian Government and Tourist Board have a fair share to blame for these are the ‘image’ that have been marketed abroad for decades. If we take the first example, Scotland and its traditional pattern, tartans, they have become almost a synonym of Scottish clans and families. ‘The significance of tartan as national dress, worn under various circumstances, created clan tartans for every “name”, even those that previously had none…This has lead to the idea of district tartans being the original association, between the land, the community and its cloth. Where there was a strong clan within a district, as was often the case in the highlands, then visitors from other areas might well have been recognized as of a clan from their tartan’.

In the case of Japanese textiles, according to Warth, they ‘reflect an indulgence and desire for

It came as no surprise to me then, that, once I showed a set of traditional textiles that I brought back with me from Brazil, none of my classmates were able to distinguish as being a Brazilian pattern: ‘Chita’.

doing the same Internet search on ‘Japan’ (figure 2).

If I had showed a set of Kimonos most people would identify it as being Japanese, a set of tartans would relate to Scotland and so on. But why are these pairings so easy to make and yet ‘Chita’ and ‘Brazil’ are not?

So a very simple experiment was made during my first ‘Major Project Proposal’ presentation and Design and Rhetoric Unit work. First I showed five different unlabelled traditional textile patterns from five different countries: England, Japan, India, Scotland and Brazil (figure 3).

If we do an internet search on the word ‘Brazil’, the first found images (figure 1) summarizes the country in: beaches, football, the Amazon Rainforest, Rio de Janeiro’s landmarks and Carnival. It would be fair to say that these are the same answers I would get if I asked most people who are not Brazilians or that have never been to Brazil what they knew about this

What followed was set of images that I found online about each of the five countries and followed by its traditional textile patterns. The connection between England (figure 4), Japan (figure 5), India (figure 6) and Scotland (figure 7) was easily assimilated but not from Brazil.

luxurious fabrics, blending the evolution of Japanese culture with its history. The results are museum quality, one of a kind and increasingly rare.’ We can easily associate these to the images found

fig. 3 traditional textile patterns from five different countries: England, Japan, India, Scotland and Brazil

fig. 4 England and its traditional patterns

fig. 5 Japan and its traditional patterns

fig. 8 Common Images of Brazil

fig. 7 Scotland and its traditional patterns

fig. 8 Chita patterns

It is understandable that an aerial view of the Amazon, Rio’s Sugar Loaf Mountain and a woman wearing a Carnival costume cannot be associated with the big, colourful flower pattern (figure 8). By then showing a broader repertoire of images that portrayed Brazilian’s multiculturalism, traditional festivities, architecture, florae and fauna (figure 9) it made it easier to assimilate the richness of this country and therefore the subtle references that can be seen in the textile. fig. 6 India and its traditional patterns

fig. 9 Brazil’s Florae and Fauna

fig. 9 Brazil’s architecture and traditional festivities

fig. 10 Chita’s basic elements

fig. 11 Chita’s basic elements

So the work undertaken throughout the Design and Rhetoric Unit was of real importance to me as it allowed me to first decompose some of the different patterns. By removing the background colour and making some new colour combinations I was able to define whether the palette is an important part of the identity of this fabric, and the truth is, it is. When I tried to approximate its colour combinations to the ones found in, for example, William Morris’design. Secondly I started reducing the design to its basic elements; the main flowers or birds for example (figure 10) which led me to experiment with simpler patterns and difference in scale (figure 11). At last I began combining traditional Scottish Tartan fabrics with different Chitas. The result is a unique and intriguing set of prints that have such a mixed background that it is quite impossible to guess where it originates from or even what it represents (figure 12).

fig. 12 Final outcomes

Therefore, to be able to analyze how a textile influenced, influences and is influenced by a culture we need to, not only visually acknowledge what intrinsic meanings a particular group of textile carries but also recognize how it can also be an indicator of cultural mechanisms and manifestations, offering ‘insights into the greatest range of developments, embracing not


only technology, agriculture and trade, but also ritual, tribute, language, art and personal identity’


(Schoeser, 2003:7). And one can only be able to do that by first studying its cultural history. Lou Taylor (2002:67), citing Le Wita, emphasizes that ‘an important key to cultural analyses is to pay attention to the “little details”, and indeed the “little details” which define the status of the fabrics of clothing are an invaluable means of identifying and interpreting complex issues within the “enterprise of culture”’. And as Mellão and Imbroisi, (2005:22) states about Chita: ‘ The history of this textile carries you toward the Brazilian soul. Past, present, work, punishment, party, creativity, art, childhood, cheekiness and an enormous happiness are combined in the colours and uncontrolled mixtures of the patterns, that wore slaves, peasants, tropicalists, literature characters, theatre, soap opera and cinema; without loosing its innocence’.

And with such an extensive subject area to explore I have to keep in mind that the response to this question will help me to curate and design an exhibition about Brazilian Culture that as Haworth-Booth, curator of the Victoria and Albert Museum has said ‘must look both ways, be sympathetic in two directions’ , it will be loyal to the country it is representing but also inform the visitor through an innovative exhibition experience.

methodology research plan

Primary research will be undertaken in order to find out the relationship between pattern and culture. Idea of visual memory, identity and culture will be explored in form of a survey that takes images from a different number of countries including Brazil and see what personal associations are made. Exhibition curators and book editors will be interviewed in order to understand the process of gathering information and visually synthesizing an idea. Case studies such as ‘Festival Brazil’ (Southbank Centre, London, 18 June – 05 September 2010) and ‘Brazil Contemporary: art, architecture, visual culture and design’ (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Netherlands, 30 May – 23 August 2009) will allow me to review and compare the ability of successfully accomplishing a National Exhibition that avoids the use of stereotypes and still conveys a cultural message.

SECONDARY RESEARCH 1. The history of patterns; in special the history of Chintz, floral patterns from England and its relation to Chita. This research will enable me to find out h how and why the Brazilian pattern was created, its past and present. 2. B  razilian Multiculturalism including the idea of Cultural Identity and its history. How was, what we call ‘Brazilian Identity’ formed, how important is tradition, which cultures influenced and still influences Brazil. 3. The history of Brazilian Graphic Design and how it might have influenced Brazilian pattern design. By looking at the evolution of Brazilian Graphic Design I will try and find out how it evolved from being a design based on European visual standards to one that communicates a new Brazilian identity. 4. T  he relation between patterns (in particular Chita) and Brazilian crafts, art, architecture, music, literature, graphic design , advertisement and fashion. How do these areas influence and are influenced by one another; for example, wow can an ambient be transformed by the use of pattern, how did fashion incorporate the use of Chita, how do artists and designers use Chita as a reference to Brazilian culture.


To curate and design an exhibition about Brazil that has as the main conducting theme the Chita pattern. This will include the visual identity and graphic material of the exhibition (logo, invitation, catalogue, poster etc) as well as the design of the space itself: layout, exhibition panels and interactive displays. As the relationship between Chita and Brazilian Culture has not yet been fully researched, exhibited and published in Brazil or abroad, it will be of the interest of an extensive audience which includes anyone interested in pattern, design, art and culture.


01 - 15 history of Chita

patterns from England 16 - 28 history of Chintz and floral

5. The Tropicália Movement and how it changed Brazilian Art and Cultural Identity. outcome


01 - 15 history of Chintz and floral

patterns from England

16 - 31 Culture and Brazilian cultural identity and traditions





01 - 15

01 - 15 Tropicália Movement

01 - 15 Editing Secondary research Written report

01 - 15 Case study 2: ‘Festival Brazil’

16 - 30 Case study 1: Exhibition ‘Brazil Contemporary’

16 - 31 Final outcome: Chita exhibition

Culture and Brazilian cultural identity and traditions history of Brazilian Graphic Design 16 - 30 History of Brazilian Graphic Design Tropicália Movement

16 - 31 Chita and crafts, art, architecture, music, literature, graphic design , advertisement and fashion



01 - 15 Final outcome: Chita exhibition

01 - 15 Final outcome: Chita exhibition

Image selection/editing

Visual Identity / Exhibition Design

16 - 31 Final outcome: Chita exhibition

16 - 31 Final outcome: Chita exhibition

Visual Identity

Visual Identity / Exhibition Design

OCTOBER 01 - 15 Final outcome: Chita exhibition Visual Identity / Exhibition Design Written report 16 - 31 Written report Printing.

Surveys and interviews

Image selection/editing

NOVEMBER 01 - 10 Printing Hand in


further reading list


Andreoli, E. and Forty, A., (2007) Brazil’s Modern Architecture. UK: Phaidon Press Ltd

Anvil Graphic Design (Compilation) (2005) Pattern and Palette Sourcebook: A Complete Guide to Using Color in Design. UK: Rockport Publishers Inc.

Barker, E. (1999) Contemporary Cultures of Display (Art & Its Histories). USA: Yale University Press

Cole, D. (Editor) (2003) 1000 Patterns. UK: A & C Black Publishers Ltd

Basualdo, C. (Editor) (2007) Tropicália: Uma Revolução na Cultura Brasileira – 1967-1972 (Tropicalia: A Revolution in the Brazilian Culture – 1967-1972). Brazil: Cosac Naif

Sharrad, P. and Collet, A. (2004) Reinventing Textiles: Postcolonialism and Creativity UK: Telos Art Publishing Collet, A. and Sharrad, P. Postcolonialism and Creativity: v. 3 (Reinventing Textiles). UK: Telos Art Publishing

Buarque de Holanda (1995) Raízes do Brasil (Brazilian Roots). Brazil: Companhia das Letras Cardoso, R. (Editor) (2005) O Design Brasileiro Antes do Design: Aspectos da História Gráfica, 1870-1960 (Brazilian Design Before Design: Graphic History Aspects, 1870-1960). Brazil: Cosac Naif

Haworth-Booth, M. in (02/02/2010) Crill, R. (2008) Chintz: Indian Textiles for the West, UK: V & A Publishing Heidi, A. (2007) Pattern and Palette Sourcebook: Bk. 2: A Complete Guide to Choosing the Perfect Color and Pattern in Design. UK: Rockport Publishers Inc. Mellão, R. and Imbroisi, R. (2005) Que Chita Bacana (What a nice Chita!). Brazil: A Casa

Ferfuson, B., Greenberg, R. and Nairne, S. (1996) Thinking About Exhibitions. Routledge Figueredo, L., Gierstberg, F., Guldemond, J., Holtwijk, I., Meurs, P. and Woensel, B. (2009) Brazil Contemporary: Architecture, Visual Culture, Art. Netherlands: Nai Publishers

Morris, W. (1988) Full-colour Patterns and Designs. USA: Dover Publications Inc. Stephenson, K. and Hampshire, M. (2006) Stripes - Communicating with Patterns. Switzerland: Rotovision SA Stephenson, K. and Hampshire, M. (2008) Squares, Checks and Grids - Communicating with Patterns. Switzerland: Rotovision SA Taylor, L. (2002) De-coding the Hierarchy of Fashion Textiles in Boydell, C and Schoeser, M. (2002) Disentangling Textiles: Techniques for the study of designed objects. UK: Middlesex University Press.

Freyre, G. (2009) Modos de Homem e Modas de Mulheres (Men’s Modes and Women’s Fashion). Brazil: Global Editora e Distribuidora SA Genders, C. (2009) Pattern, Colour and Form: Creative Approaches by Artists. A & C Black Publishers Ltd Góes, M. (2004) Brazilian Cultural Landscape: Northeast Region. Brazil: Editora Terceiro Nome Harris, J. (1993) 5000 Years of Textiles. UK: British Museum Press

Google image search: mozilla:en-US:official&um=1&q=brazil&sa=N&start=0&ndsp=21 (24/01/2010)

Homen de Melo, C. (Editor) (2006) O Design Gráfico Brasileiro Anos 60 (Brazilian Graphic Design in the 60’s). Brazil: Cosac Naif

Google image search: (24/01/2010)

Hyland, A. and King, E. (2006) c/id: Visual Identity and Branding for the Arts. Laurence King. Warth, T. in (24/01/2010) (24/01/2010)

Leal, J. (2004-2005) Um Olhar sobre o Design Brasileiro (An Overview of Brazilian Design). Brazil: Objeto Brasil Lupton, E. and Phillips, J. C., (2008) Graphic Design: The New Basics. USA: Princeton Architectural Press

Lupton, E. and Miller, A., (2008) Design Writing Research: Writing on Graphic Design. UK: Phaidon Press Ltd Napolitano, M. (2004) Cultura Brasileira – Utopia e Massificação (1950 – 1980) (Brazilian Culture – Utopia and Massification [1950 – 1980]). Brazil: Contexto. Obrist, H. U. (2008), A Brief History of Curating. JRP Ringier Obrist, H. U. and Diers, M. (2009) Hans Ulrich Obrist: Interviews: 1. Edizioni Charta Ormiston, R. and Robson, M., (2007) Colour Source Book. UK: Flame Tree Publishing Ortiz, R. (2006) Cultura Brasileira e Identidade Nacional (Brazilian Culture and National Identity). Brazil: Editora Brasiliense Ramírez, M. (2007) Hélio Oiticica The Body of Colour. UK: Tate Publishing Robinson, S. (1969) A History of Printed Textiles – Block, Roller, Screen, Design, Dyes, Fibres, Discharge, Resist; Further Sources for Research. UK: Studio Vista London Schmidt, P., Tietenberg, A. and Wollheim, R.,(Editors) (2007) Patterns in Design, Art and Architecture. Birkhauser Verlag AG Schubert, K. (2009) The Curator’s Egg: The Evolution of the Museum Concept from the French Revolution to the Present Day. Ridinghouse Vannuchi, A. (2006) Cultura Brasileira – O que é, como se faz (Brazilian Culture – What it is and how it is done). Brazil: Edições Loyola Wells, N. (2005) Arts and Crafts. UK: Flame Tree Publishing Wilhide , E. (1991) William Morris Decor and Design. UK: Pavilion Books


[con]textile | Major project proposal  
[con]textile | Major project proposal  

Proposal for final project of MA Graphic Design