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Like texture, pattern is a
fundamental design prin-
ciple that helps define the
visual quality of surface
activity. The visual characteristics of any pattern help us see dis-
tinctions between one object and another. Pattern is a specific type
of visual texture and is traditionally derived from a defined and
“Pattern, the fruit of design, can be seen as the measure
of culture.
William Feaver, British, Art Critic, Author
pat·tern \'pa-t rn\ n
3: an artistic, musical, literary, or
mechanical design or form
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th e la n guag e of gr ap hic d es i gn
Blok Design
Mexico City, Mexico
sagmeister inc.
New York, New York, USA
Hermann Scherrer
Munich, Germany
Ludwig Hohlwein (1847–1949) was
trained and practiced as an architect until
1906, when he became interested in graphic
design and the visual arts.
During the 1890s, he lived in Munich,
where he was part of the United Workshops
for Arts and Crafts, an avant-garde group
of artists and craftsmen dedicated to the
tenets and principles of the Arts and Crafts
movement. Hohlwein moved to Berlin in
1911 and started working as a graphic de-
signer primarily designing advertisements
and posters for the men’s clothing company
Hermann Scherrer.
Hohlwein’s most creative phase of
work and a large variety of his best-known
posters were created between 1912 and
1925. It was during this critical period that
he developed his own unique visual style.
By 1925, he had already designed 3,000
different advertisements and became the
best-known German commercial artist of
his time.
Poster historian Alain Weill comments
that “Hohlwein was the most prolific and
brilliant German posterist of the twentieth
century. . . Beginning with his first efforts,
Hohlwein found his style with disconcert-
ing facility. It would vary little for the next
forty years. The drawing was perfect from
the start, nothing seemed alien to him, and
in any case, nothing posed a problem for
him. His figures are full of touches of color
and a play of light and shade that brings
them out of their background and gives
them substance.
Hohlwein’s work relied mostly on
strong figurative elements with reductive
qualities of high contrast, intense flat color,
and bold patterns of geometric elements.
This is evident in his iconographic poster
for Hermann Scherrer. The figurative ele-
repeated compositional structure always
appearing in an organized and regimented
graphic manner.
The visual elements of point, line, and
shape are the basis for creating pattern
throughout history. Combining pattern with
the organizational design principle of the
grid, graphic designers can create an infinite
variety of end results. By utilizing a singular
element in different organizations, configura-
tions, and compositions, patterns can be real-
ized with endless variations either subtle or
obvious, all built around a singular common
graphic denominator.
(continued on page 240)
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