Pattern: The Fiber of our Lives

There's a time in everyone's life when we imagine ourselves in another place, an exotic place, and perhaps a different time in history.  Now think of how this translates into our everyday life about our surroundings.  We bring those exotic places into our homes and weave them into the fiber of our lives.

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It is under our feet.  It is on our walls.  It sits on our shelves and dresses our furnishings.  The influence of world culture in home design is inarguable and nothing new.  For centuries, countries have had incorporated design of foreign lands into their interiors as a display of wealth and well-breeding. European palaces draped in silks from the Far East and handmade Persian rugs were a calling card of culture and refinement of the upper class. While I believe that rugs and fabrics, rare stones and furs from exotic places were strong status symbols in society, I also believe that these same people equally coveted the beauty in them and the beauty in the design of such articles. 


Fast forward to present day.  We see interior design trends come and go from season to season.  Shifts in color, shifts in finishes inform much of what resides in our spaces.


All the while, what remains is the presence of world culture at our design fingertips; so much so, in fact, that the provenance is often lost on the user.  Let’s look at some of the very popular modern trends that trace back to, perhaps, the most unlikely of places.

Oriental Rugs

Perhaps no other single design item is quite as well-known or timeless as the oriental rug.  Often an umbrella term for sourcing from many places, “oriental”, by definition, are carpets hand knotted only in Asia. Sometimes similarly characteristic rugs are referred to as “Persian” rugs, which exemplifies just how far back this tradition dates. Iran, China, India, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Tibet and Nepal are some of the biggest rug exporters in the world. 

With visually identifiable patterns and gorgeous vivid color dyes, these rugs remain a staple in the highest level of design.


This Greek classic has been in and out of fashion many times throughout many decades.  This natural long wool shag rug is an expert if reinventing itself throughout design history. Naturally an off-white, the rug is woven. After being woven, traditionally it is placed in the cold water of a river to fluff the shag. 

While the original is a classic modern design piece, today we find them in every color of the spectrum; from electric blue to heather gray. I strongly recommend you sink your feet into one if given the opportunity.

Geometric Tile

Again, the source for the entire BOHO style design trend is the Middle East.  With such a rich and diverse history of blended cultures through the ages, it is no wonder that the beauty of the often-geometric patterns found in explosive colors make these tiles not only highly sought after, but perfectly aligned with modern design. The repeat patterns of these tiles present as current and very futuristic, yet they date back thousands of years.

Ottomans, Poufs, Floor Pillows

Not surprisingly, the same corner of the world that yielded some of our previous design list items, comes through again within the realm of seating “accessories”.

Finding its way to Europe around the late 18th century by way of the Ottoman Empire is our trusty friend, the ottoman.  Where would modern design be without the ottoman?!  In recent years, the popularity of the ottoman’s cousin, the pouf (a soft version) and the large decorative oversized floor pillow have placed them in high demand.  The interest in these items is so high, in fact, that big box household names like Restoration Hardware and Crate and Barrel have incorporated their own versions as design staples for the masses.

So the next time you give a nod toward an interesting natural fiber wall hanging or low, wide matte finish ceramic bowl, keep one thing in mind.  While it is incredibly

chic today in modern design, it might also represent a rich cultural tradition of a specific Bedouin tribe from another corner of the globe. Appreciate the latter as much as the former.


By: Michael Feeley, Senior Designer