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Updated: Mar 17, 2022

There is an old saying - 'an investment in knowledge pays the best interest'.

Therefore, we decided to create a glossary of all textile and surface pattern design terminologies that you came across ever or will come across in future. When it comes to a creative field, the more we know, more we can imagine and create.

So, welcome to our Surface Pattern Design Wordbook, where we have researched and defined some common pattern design terms, compiled them together for your reference.


Abrash: It is the expression for unwanted color differences in rugs. Abrashs are now often made in order to give the rug a more authentic antique look. The word "Abrash" comes from the Persian word for cloud "abr".

Abstract: Abstract design does not depict any accurate subject matter. It instead use shapes, colors, textures, forms and gestural marks to achieve a nonobjective design.

Allover: A layout in which motifs are randomly placed with regular or irregular space but very close to each other and are evenly distributed, covering the whole surface.

Anthemion: A classic ornamental design of alternating motifs resembling clusters of narrow leaves or radiating honeysuckle petals.

Argyle: A diamond-shaped pattern of two or more colors set in an alternating checkerboard arrangement. Also called Argyll.

Art: Art is an expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. It is an expression of feelings, ideas, thoughts and observations.


Basket weave: An allover pattern resembling the structure of a wicker basket or a woven fabric, can be identified by a checkered appearance.

Batik: A traditional hand-dyed fabric that has a characteristic textural look due to the wax resist dye process. Wax is applied to the parts to be left undyed.

Bespoke Design: Anything that is “custom made” or “made to order”. It's anything that has been designed, created and crafted specifically with a customer in mind.

Blending: Smoothing away boundaries or edges between neighboring units of a repeat in order achieve a seamless repeat.

Block Print: Its a traditional textile technique to print motifs from intricately carved hand-cut wooden blocks.

Block Repeat: A simple style of repeat layout in which the motif appears directly on a horizontal line to the left or right of the original motif, formed by stacking the original motif in a grid layout. Its also known as square repeat or straight-across repeat.

Botanical Print: A pattern consisting of botanical elements like different plant species, herbs, leaves and flowers.

Boteh: An almond or pine cone-shaped motif in ornament with a sharp-curved upper end. Motif is in a shape of a curved droplet that is used in rugs and textile designs, has characteristics of Paisley design.

Brainstorming: It is a method used to generate ideas to work and create a specific design project.

Brick Repeat: In this layout, repeat units are stacked horizontally. The motif is offset by half in the next horizontal row resembling a brick wall.

Bull's Eye: Pattern consisting concentric circles & oval shapes inside each other. This pattern often creates optical effects like pulsation or ripple movement.


Calico: All-cotton fabric woven in plain or tabby weave and allover printed with simple designs in one or more colors, origin from India.

Camouflage: The pattern features a mixture of large and irregular patches of colors like white, black and grey, etc. intended to blend with the environment.

Cartouche: A decorative architectural feature, such as a modillion or corbel, resembling a scroll, frame, tablet or shield. It's an ornate frame around a design or inscription, can be used as a motif in a pattern.

Checks: A pattern that has horizontal and vertical stripes cross each other forming squares.

Chevron: A seamless zig-zag pattern. Also defined as 'inverted V-shaped pattern.

Chinoiserie: These patterns reflect Chinese tradition or motifs. Typically illustrating Chinese architecture, boats, and other objects that are distinctly Chinese.

Chintz: Chintz are plain woven glazed cotton fabric, printed in florals & stripes or solid-colour, frequently a highly glazed printed calico.

Color Reduction: To keep costs down, designs may be color reduced to use fewer colors for the final manufacturing. Its a part of the design process to reduce the number of colors to a manageable number without sacrificing the quality of the original artwork.

Computer Aided Design (CAD): As the name says, its using computer software applications to create designs and patterns. Example - Adobe Photoshop, CorelDRAW, Adobe Illustrator, etc.

Contemporary: This print design style is extremely stylized and not defined. Contemporary design represents the style of the moment. The design category keeps changing to accommodate the shifting preferences, tastes and needs.

Contour: A pattern that outlines the highlights of shapes, figures or motifs.

Conversational: Patterns that depict recognizable objects or scenes in a relatively descriptive way, except flowers.

Coordinates: Textile Patterns that are used together, or if they coordinate, they are similar in some way and look nice together.

Creativity: An ability to make new things or think of new ideas. The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.

Croquis: A fully painted design that is not in repeat. A rough draft or sketch.