For Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham, pattern is everywhere — in the flaking paint of street bollards and the crisscrossing beams of scaffolding, in the fashion photography of Mel Bles and the banded stiletto heels of Parisian shoemaker Walter Steiger. Together, Murray and Winteringham run Patternity, a studio and online resource for pattern imagery where each photo is curated, sourced, or taken by the designers themselves. Spend some time on the site, and their obsessions become clear: One week it’s rocks and strata; another it’s the vivid African textiles that line the stalls of the Ridley Road street market that runs daily in Dalston, the East London neighborhood both women call home.
Winteringham studied textile design at the Edinburgh College of Art, while Murray graduated from Ravensbourne and went on to join the London-based branding agency Yellow Door, where she still works. The two met one night out in London last year, but their partnership was cemented on Facebook, of all things. “I was looking at some of Anna’s photos, and I came across a picture she’d taken of a beautiful tilework pattern at King’s Cross Station,” Winteringham says. “I asked if I could use it, and once we got to chatting, we realized we were doing the exact same thing. We’re both interested in patterns — how you stumble across them in your daily life, and how they can translate to things like fashion and architecture.”
The two began creating Patternity’s online image archive in earnest this January, and the past six months have been a whirlwind of activity. In March, the two styled a special merchandise shoot for Supermarket Sarah, the cult fashion and interiors web-store run by Portobello Road flea market vendor Sarah Bagnor, and in April, they put together an exhibition of Dalston creatives featuring black-on-white, screen-printed graphics that came to life under the glow of ultraviolet light. That same month, they won a competition to exhibit with the emerging designers’ platform Hidden Art at Milan’s Salone Satellite — though a volcano-stranded Murray never made it to the booth. There, the two debuted their largest project to date, a bureau created in collaboration with Winteringham’s dad, Toby, a craftsman and woodworker based in Norfolk. The piece updates traditional marquetry with a colorful geometric pattern of inlaid veneers. “My dad actually approached me about collaborating, but I think he was thinking of something a bit more traditional,” laughs Grace.
Murray and Winteringham use the pattern archive to inspire their own products, and they hope it serves the same purpose for other designers as well. But when asked if the two plan to restrict access to what is essentially a trend-scouting service, they demure. “If we start saying you have to pay for this or pay for that, it defeats our purpose,” says Winteringham. “We’re just trying to create a nice archive where there’s inspiration coming from all directions.”