As part of his final thesis project in 2005, Richard Rhys, then a printmaking student at London’s Central Saint Martins, imagined a concept for pattern business modeled after a type foundry – in which designs are traditionally commissioned and distributed through licenses – with a key distinction: In place of letterforms and alphabets, the vocabulary would consist of patterns. “The name is loaded with meaning for me, and comes from a fascination with the idea of a foundry,” he says. “Many things have changed since that idea, but it’s sort of founded upon that principle.” The experiment quickly parlayed into a viable venture. Early collaborations with hard-hitters from the graphic-design world, including Karel Martens, Wim Crowed, and collective Dexter Sinister, aroused interest and credibility.
Now, 10 years since its conception, Pattern Foundry counts artist, mathematicians, scientists, writers, and musicians among its roster of partners. Practical applications range from tessellated building facades to ceramic tiles and public art projects; more Conceptual designs have resulted in performative mediums such as exhibitions, talks, and publications. Rhys, who worked in patterns, colors, and textiles as a teenager at Alexander McQueen’s studio, says the number of textile and rug applications has grown in recent years, bringing the venture in full circle. “I’ve always, in an artistic sense, worked with pattern for as long as I can remember,” he says. “My aim is to be able to offer tools to people to learn more about patterns.”