Why do we enjoy pattern so much?

Pattern is pleasing to the eye and mind. It is stimulating and predictable. Our enjoyment of pattern is explained by Gestalt psychology and theory as it relates to art and design.

By nature, we automatically group like elements, simplify complexity, and impose meaning and  order. This calms the mind because the environment becomes knowable and it makes us feel safe. Yet, too much simplicity, sameness and order is dull.  ‘The eye’ (other parts of the brain and body) enjoys variation in colour, size, texture, tonal value and the juxtaposition of contrasting elements as it flows through a design or artwork.

Up close we notice and appreciate individual elements. And from a distance they integrate to create a rich synergistic experience.

We can extract so much awareness from contemplating  pattern.

Visual patterns offer many analogies for life.

Knowing how our brains work and why is key. This should make us pause, and question our automatic and impulsive responses in life. Anything that deviates too far from what is known to me makes me feel uncomfortable and even threatened. This is why I resist. Yet, diversity adds richness to the whole. This includes divergent thinking, different perspectives, and racial, cultural and ethnic diversity. Can I step back and appreciate the whole?

Patterns also contain boundaries where one shape ends and another begins. Again, from a distance there is a seamless flow, but up close there is real separation and barriers. In life, we are designated a place within a certain shape. If a pattern is a map, we belong in a certain place. Moving across boundaries demands huge effort and at times is impossible due to gate keeping practices and border controls. And we are discouraged from belonging in or inhabiting various shapes simultaneously.

Patterns are our own constructs. They make us feel safe. But we know they are comprised of rich diversity. They are complex and beautiful, like all life forms, like life itself.

Can we hold this awareness? Can we respond with appreciation? Can we hold diversity in high regard and live in harmony and unity, like a beautiful pattern?

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