Really great to chat with you. And great name. Can you quickly explain what you guys do?
Well, our core mission is “to use pattern to inspire more mindful living and positive change”. We started as an open-access pattern research archive and developed into a creative studio a couple of years later. Today, we also work as a consultancy, and we curate an ongoing programme of wellbeing and educational events. We think about how can pattern help us to better connect to the environment, each other and ourselves. Our aim is to bridge the worlds of creativity, science and spirituality, raising awareness of the power of pattern in culture.
Our work is really varied; within our practice, we have created book covers, delivered installations, directed films, developed sustainable products and designed a wellbeing app.
What’s the philosophy behind the business?
Patterns exist everywhere we go and in everything we do. It’s there when we look up, down and all around; outside ourselves and deep within; from the macro to the micro; the seen to the unseen. Pattern speaks a powerful universal language that unites us all. Pattern is life.
How did you start working together?
When we first met, we were both working in the creative sector. [Anna as an art director; Grace as a pattern cutter.] We quickly realised a shared vision and chose to combine forces to work with pattern in a positive and purposeful way. We believe fundamentally in the power of collaboration. There’s a great proverb that inspires us; “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Working together has helped us both to grow. And it has helped us understand our own inner patterns and creative process; our essence. Crucially, it means we support each other and keeps us laughing.
Why do you think we find patterns infinitely fascinating?
There is something very reassuring about patterns. Similar patterns crop up everywhere you look. For example, the DNA spiralling double helix, a microscopic shell, the swirling follicles on a baby’s head, a chart of a hurricane, the Milky Way. Patterns can help us bridge the material and immaterial; the mundane and the magnificent. They speak to our universal connectedness to nature and, indeed, each other. Looking at patterns is nourishing; they act as signposts to a world view.
You refer to nature and the environment a lot. Why is so important to you?
It really is at the heart of everything we create. Nowadays, more of us live in cities than the countryside and technology has further removed us from nature day-to-day. But without nature, there is nothing, no life.
We often conduct our meetings outside – maybe walking or even lying down, staring at the sky. And we are surrounded by plants at work.
Our work aims to raise awareness of our deep connection with nature and what we can learn from the patterns and rhythms of nature in our own lives. It’s vital to be connected to the celestial rhythms of nature. It reminds us to take time to rest, reflect and restore our energy. Nature really is the ultimate teacher if you make space to listen to it.
You’re also interested in the healing power of music.
Well, we first met in a club in east London twelve years ago, so it’s a huge part of what we are. Early on, we would go to music festivals to photograph the joyful, kaleidoscope of patterns that could be found there.
As our pattern research deepened, we began to bring music more consciously into our projects and practices. We’ve worked with sound healers, producers, created podcasts and playlists to support workflow. In some of our workshops, we play instrumental music during the creative exercises to guide participants away from the busy mind and towards more embodied states of creative flow.
Tell us a bit more about the workshops and events that you do?
Our events are an extension of our practice, where we invite guests to learn more about the soothing power of nature through patterns. On 20 September, we are hosting a Plantlife Drawing workshop online. Together we’ll be looking closely at the patterns, textures and shapes plants, and hearing how they can inform us about growth and resilience to take into our own lives. And we’ll be teaching some drawing techniques to help connect with our creativity.
A couple of years ago, we published our second book, Be Great, Be Grateful; A Gratitude Journal for Positive Living (Ebury Press). It’s a guide to help people design moments and develop habits to pause and reflect in their daily lives.
What have you got coming up?
We’re working on a retreat focused around the naturally occurring psychoactive drug psilocybin. We’re also in early conversations with two ocean-based initiatives; one is exploring the language patterns of whales, which is truly fascinating.We’ve also developing and revisiting some of our products; some will be physical products for the home and body, others education-based products, such as online courses and tool kits.
How has lockdown affected you?
It’s been a welcome pause for us; we’ve had time to reflect and really tune into what feels important to us moving forward. In fact, we moved out of our studio two years ago and intentionally chose to work from our respective homes. Now many people are thinking of working like this since lockdown. We organise our day around what works for us. We can take walks in nature, go for a swim, and just find spaciousness as and when we need it. For us, lockdown hasn’t had a huge impact on our approach, as such, as we already work from home and live in our own pattern.
What effect does staring at a screen have on us? How can we spend our time doing other things?
There is so much research on the effects of screen time, and it’s likely that most of us spend too much time looking at them and feeling guilty. But it’s potentially just as harmful to have this negative narrative of guilt. It’s really important to have downtime. Sometimes that means still looking at a screen, but the key is to find a way, so the screen isn’t always a magnetic pull.
Our workshops have always been centred around helping people get offline and tuned into the soothing visual of patterns, and to balance this with the mostly digital life of modern-day creatives and designers. We have created simple exercises – drawing and writing – that allow people to come together, and be guided through a process, and have time away from the screen.
What single piece of advice could you give to our readers to help them with their day-to-day living?
Take time to notice nature. It will guide you home.