The emotive and semantic content of pattern : an introductory analysis

Urquhart, Lewis and Wodehouse, Andrew (2021) The emotive and semantic content of pattern : an introductory analysis. Design Journal, 24 (1). pp. 115-135. ISSN 1756-3062 (

[thumbnail of Urquhart-Wodehouse-DJ-2020-The-emotive-and-semantic-content-of-pattern-an-introductory]
Text. Filename: Urquhart_Wodehouse_DJ_2020_The_emotive_and_semantic_content_of_pattern_an_introductory.pdf
Accepted Author Manuscript

Download (1MB)| Preview


This article examines the emotive significance of culturally prominent patterns and sets out an agenda for their purposeful use in design. An exploratory study reviewed 16 distinct patterns and asked participants to judge to what extent a set of emotion terminology related to the aesthetic of each. The results suggest the dynamics of observing aesthetically complex pattern are both exciting and interesting. Drawing on aesthetic theory, it is also argued that discrete geometric motifs within pattern may be subjectively related to emotions such as trust and fear. Connecting these motifs with specific concepts in aesthetic perception and interpretation, it is proposed that pattern can be selectively applied by designers hoping to develop emotively attuned product aesthetics.