Designa: technical secrets of the visual arts

A new sourcebook aims to reveal the secrets behind the many of the patterns and symbols that occur in the traditional visual arts. From Celtic and Islamic designs, to studies of curves, perspective, symmetry and the 'golden section', Designa is a real box of delights...


The book is actually composed of six previously published editions from Wooden Books, with various appendices included to provide further context. And each chapter – ostensibly one of the six books published between 2007 and 2013 – is at once scientific and philosophical about the process of design. After all, much of the work charted here is centuries old, the product of cultures from all over the world. It's had a lot of time to prove that it works.


Designa brings together observations of the natural world and astronomy, optics, geometry and mathematics to show how the visual arts are heavily indebted to science. If your creative practice involves drawing and designing patterns – or incorporating them into your work – then this packed book unlocks the secrets to countless aspects of the artform.

"We harness lines to make our world, to bind language into time, to connect and protect, surround and select," runs a typically enigmatic line from Adam Tetlow's chapter on Celtic Pattern.

In an age where trends speed by from one day to the next, Designa looks at the foundations of pattern, line, shape and symbol that will no doubt be in place for generations to come.

Designa is published by Wooden Books; £14.99. See It is available from Amazon UK, here.