Have you made the most out of geometric patterns?
Sounds like a bit of an odd question, I know, but geometric patterns are an incredibly useful tool that you can really tap into.
Geometric patterns when used correctly can be highly flexible, visually effective and in some cases, very functional. You can use them to bring vibrancy and life to your designs or a softer elegance and style to them.
Let’s have a look at 50 different ways geometric patterns have been used in designs and how you can do just the same.
01. Balance it out
Geometric patterns are a great way to grab a lot of attention, but if you’re planning on using or combining a lot of them, consider balancing them out with some less-busy elements. Check out this example by Studio Plat that uses lots of bold, sharp and vibrant geometric patterns, but what they have also done is made the inside of the brochure much simpler. So, if you’re using a lot of patterns in a bold, vibrant way, adding in some complementary white space and simpler elements can help to keep it legible and too overwhelming.
02. Pair your pattern with die cutting
A well-used die cut can make a world of difference to your design, and when paired with a beautiful geometric pattern, you can make something really effective. Have a look at this identity design by Naomi Farrar for the stationary shop ‘Ink’. Naomi cleverly uses the die cut logo as a window that lets the colorful geometric pattern peek through. Just like the previous example, this piece shows the value of balancing such a colorful and busy pattern with simpler white elements.
03. Let the pattern complement your elements
The key thing to remember when using geometric patterns is that you’re using them in order to complement your design. Check out this example by Smitten Studio that complements the simple organic brown card design with an earthy toned, arrow-shaped pattern. Play with your patterns’ shape, colors, and application and work with it until you feel it fits your design to a T.
04. Blend patterns with photography
Want to add some sharp, eye-catching geometrics to your photos? Get inspired to experiment with shapes, patterns, and photography with this example by Foreign Policy. By layering shapes and photography in various ways, and topping it off with a muted vintage color palette, these pieces turn from your everyday run of the mill photographs into an unexpected, sharp and stylish design. Get bold with color and get brave with your geometric shapes, because the end result can put a sharp spin on your designs.
05. Build a geometric logo
Geometric shapes can be strong, bold and striking design elements, so naturally, they work fantastically in the world of logos. This branding for The City of Melbourne by Landor Associates took this on board big time when constructing their logo and its many variations. The sharp M shape and the various geometric patterns that fill it help to create depth, vibrancy, and flexibility to the design while keeping it all nicely and consistently branded. So, next time you’re creating a logo, consider using strong shapes and patterns to create a stylish and modern look.
06. Create a geometric gradient
One the one hand, gradients are great, and on the other hand, so are geometric patterns. So, why not bring those two hands together and create a geometric gradient? This design by Silvio Ketterer uses a sharp, linear, geometric pattern and subtle gradient-like patterns to create a professional and stunning design. Subtle and sleek, combining a gradient-like palette and linear shapes is a fantastic way to bring geometric patterning into a more corporate design.
07. Play with scale
One of the best things about using a pattern in your designs is the scalability of them. Scale your pattern up to create large blocks of color and distinct shapes, or scale it down to create more of a textured, detailed look. Check out how Anna Trympali has done just that here in this branding for “Art of π” jewelry. On some applications, Anna has scaled the pattern way up, turning it into simple blocks of color, whereas on other applications, she has scaled it way down, creating a busier geometric pattern. Let each application have its own design by mixing up your geometric patterns’ scale a little bit.
08. Pair strong patterns with vibrant colours
So, there’s a general rule of thumb that you shouldn’t use more than 3 colors in one design and that you shouldn’t clash patterns, but we all know rules (especially design ones) are made to be broken. Check out this example by Urtd that pairs lots of sharp black patterns with spots of color (note: way more colors than just 3), and the result? A stunning end product. Consider pairing vibrant colors with sharp patterns for an effective and eye-catching effect, and don’t be afraid to experiment!
09. Mix and match elements
Mix and matching shapes, patterns and colors can help you create really dynamic and beautiful compositions. Check out this example by G Design Studio for the Greece design college ‘Vakalo’. By creating a variety of different compositions of shapes, patterns, and colors, these designs are kept playful, sharp and engaging.
As G Design Studio notes, “We used bold patterns associated with Vakalo’s two specialist subjects: graphic design and interior design. These patterns were inspired by the basic design course, which is the foundation for composition and synthesis.”
So, mix your elements around, see what matches and what clashes and see what beautiful variations you can come up with.
10. Get geometric with type
Who says geometric patterns and type should be separate? Nobody, that’s who! Bring geometric shapes and patterns into your type for a playful and fun effect. Check out this example by Lili Li for the DIY kite kit brand ‘Aeroplay’. Lily used geometric shapes to create her Aeroplay logo and then went on to use that logo as a pattern of sorts on her packaging. Equal parts functional and flexible, this is one simple but effective technique to make use of.
11. Go monochromatic
The previous examples we’ve looked at have all been vibrantly colored, but what about if we subtract that color and go back to basics? A geometric, monochromatic design can be very sharp and even more effective. Check out this example by Kilo Studio for Flock Cafe.
As the designers note “The idea of ‘Coming together’ was used in the identity where various patterns representing different parts of the café are assembled in seemingly unlimited combinations.”
So, the combination of different patterns that come together to form one and the sleek palette all work together to create a design that is detailed and intricate but not at all overwhelming. So, if you plan to use a lot of patterns, consider a much more basic color scheme, and let your patterns do the talking.
12. Create patterns out of type
There’s inspiration for patterns everywhere, including in type. Have a look at the way Atelier Ivorin at Rational International has used the M letterform and turned it into a pattern by simply repeating it. When paired with three vivid signature colors, this ‘M’ pattern becomes a part of a sharp, modern design that is sure to grab all the right kinds of attention. Consider turning your type into a pattern and see how you can use letterforms to create something dynamic and new.
13. Embrace asymmetry
A lot of people when they imagine a ‘pattern’ think of one or two shapes repeated many times. While this is certainly the case for many, having a bit less of a linear patterning can be effective too. Check out this branding by Olivia King that uses asymmetric faceted shapes as a pattern rather than your usual orderly pattern. This faceted patterning is not only beautiful and effective but also highly flexible across many mediums. Consider abandoning the grid and manually creating a pattern for a unique and highly stylised look.
14. When in doubt, letterpress
Not sure if you want to use a busy pattern? Or perhaps you just want some added oomph to your preexisting pattern? Well, let me suggest letterpressing. Check out these business cards by Laurie DeMartino Design Co. that use different patterns as the focal pieces on each card, each one having been letterpressed to give it that tactile and dimensional edge.
Also note: a few of the cards have not used any color in their patterning and have let the letterpressing show off the pattern alone, which is a subtle and delicate way to use a pattern if you’re going for a subtler, classier look.
15. Split your photos into geometric frames
Are you working on a photographic project and want to channel some geometric patterning? Consider ditching the run of the mill square photo frames and instead go for something a bit more shapely, sharp, and angular, like this example from Melissa Zambrana. By cropping your images at varying points and tiling them in angular and geometric ways, you can breathe new life and put a unique spin on your photographs.
16. Try some tessellation
Another great thing about geometric shapes? Some of them tessellate! Consider interlocking shapes to create leading lines that direct the eye down the page, just as this example by Aidan Stonehouse does. By combining these geometric shapes with images and type that aligns to each element, you can create a striking effect.
17. Play with pixels
You're looking at hundreds of them right this second: pixels. Pixels are technology’s own pieces of geometric patterning and are a great piece of inspiration for your designs. Check out how Joe Kral has taken inspiration from the iconic computer mouse and has created this stunning layered effect. Also, note how well aligned each element is. If you’re going to work with pixel art, consider using a grid and aligning your elements to keep it looking neat.
18. Experiment with wire frame patterns
Are you looking for a pattern that’s a little less obtrusive? That can work well when paired with other images/elements? Consider wire frame patterns. Have a look at this example by Eight Hour Day that uses thin lines and transparent areas to construct a pattern that can then be placed over imagery without blocking out the picture entirely, while still branding the image with the pattern subtly and effectively. Consider creating a wire frame pattern if you’re looking for an unobtrusive way to pair patterns and photos.
19. Create an illusion
When used correctly, you can use geometric patterns to create an illusion of movement. Check out this poster created for the appropriately titled “Wave Festival”. The use of bold shapes adjusted to create wave patterns creates an illusion of movement to the design while also looking sharp and effective. Check out how the headlining band/artist names are subtly hidden in the ‘wave’ lines so as not to detract from the design. Don’t be afraid to get a little curvy and illusionary with your geometric patterns.
20. Create interlocking patterns
Consider interlocking various pattern elements to create a larger design. For example, these promotional designs by Patrick Fry for The Globe Theatre interlock geometric patterned elements to create a set of items that look fantastic apart and even better together. Using a simple circle/semi-circle shape on either side of the page, Fry creates a design that is begging to be lined up and collected to form the whole image. The simple but bold patterns are offset with some clean white space to allow for the patterns’ colors to really pop.
21. Work with layers
A great way to add some depth and a unique spin to your geometric patterns is by layering your elements in interesting ways. Check out this poster by Elise Muchir and Franklin Desclouds from the French design studio Des Signes. This poster is playful and fresh in the way it layers elements of the geometric pattern over and under the type. Consider bringing some elements of your pattern forward in your designs to create a bit more of a dynamic and layered effect.
22. Collage your patterns
Can’t decide on just one pattern? Then, why not use them all? Have a look at this personal identity branding set by Australian design group Hofstede Design. Their logo and all of their other applications have an amalgamation of various blocks of pattern and geometric symbols, which makes for a patchwork quilt of playful and sharp design elements. There’s a grand total of seventeen different blocks of patterns (that they dub “pixels”) that represent their adaptability and visual expression. So, if you have a set of patterns you like, consider slotting them in together and see what cool effects you can create.
23. Tailor your patterns to your brand
Geometric patterns aren’t just for vibrant, sharp and lively brands, they can also be used to add sophistication and class, just as has been done in this example by Gustavo Freitas for jewelry brand Monte Cristallo. By using a simple and delicate pattern and balancing it out with soft colors and minimal elements, this geometric pattern adds some texture, style and a unique effect to the branding. So, don’t totally discount geometric patterns for your branding just yet, you can tailor them to just about any situation.
24. Create purposeful patterns
There’s an inspiration for patterns everywhere, so brainstorm ideas around your project and see what shapes come to mind. For example, check out this branding by Federica Belfonte for Bee Visual that channels the iconic hexagonal beehive honeycomb shape and creates a beautiful simple pattern. Such a simple added element, this pattern channels the brand name and adds some color, playfulness, and fun into the branding. Have a think about what shapes and patterns you associate with your brand/project and see if you can turn that into a pattern.
25. Add in some variety
They say variety is the spice of life, so why not add in some to your patterns? These business cards by Factory North use three simple but different geometric patterns and colors to create diverse, fresh and beautiful cards that look great alone and even better together. Using half of the business card for the pattern graphic is also a great way to balance out a lot of type if you ever run into that dilemma. So, establish some patterns you love and then consider spreading them out over your business cards for some variety and something a little unique.
26. Use some geometric negative space
Here’s a little math equation for you to keep in mind: strong shapes + strong photographs = strong designs. Mixing your photographs with intriguing geometric patterns and shapes can boost their contrast and give them a unique, mysterious edge. Check out this series of designs by Josip Kelava for a photographic competition.
“Working with negative space and contrast, the designs were created to entice the viewer’s participation in comparing various components while adding variety to the total design,” Josip says, “The contrast from these two colors inspired me to create geometric optical art that gave the designs a sense movement, rather than something static.”
So, if you’re in the market for something a little edgier or a little sharper, consider taking a leaf from Josip Kelava’s book and introduce geometric shapes into your photographs.
27. Pair flat colours with black patterns
Mixing flat pops of colors and sharp black and white patterns can help you create a sharp and effective contrast. Check out how Anagrama have paired a pastel pink and mint color with a sharp, thick, labyrinthine geometric pattern inspired by antique Mayan art to create an eye-catching and memorable effect. Not all of your patterns have to complement your color scheme, consider creating a pattern that sharply contrasts it to create a really striking design.
28. Enhance your image with geometric shapes
Your photographs and patterns don’t have to be separate elements, in fact, consider shaping your geometric pattern around your photograph to create a visual net of sorts. Check out these examples from Caroline Grohs for The Motion Theatre that uses beautiful images of dancers and traps them in geometric shapes that enhance the movement in each image. Creating geometric ‘nets’ can really highlight the preexisting shapes and figures in your image, so consider if something similar could enhance your photographs.
29. Play with optical illusions
Another cool thing about delving into the world of geometric patterns is the ability to create optical illusions. Check out this campaign poster by Themes Illustration that uses sharp, connected geometric shapes to create an optical illusion of a skull (Can’t see it? Try leaning back a bit). So, if you’re keen to create something a little more experimental and a bit edgier, have a go at creating a geometric illusion.
30. Use soft gradients for a sharp effect
Introducing soft gradients and varying transparency effects can give your geometric pattern an interesting effect. Check out this branding kit by Helen & Co. for software company Efinity that creates a train of irregular, interlocking triangular elements that are each softly colored with gradients and transparency effects. The result is a simple but dimensional and effective design that is perfect for corporate business. Don’t consider flat colors as the be all and end all for your geometric patterns, experiment and see what works for you!
31. Build typographic patterns
We’ve discussed how you can use patterns for branding previously, but what about turning your branding into a pattern? This design for the TextielMuseum/TextielLab does just that, by taking the three letters from the brand’s name and logotype – T, M and L – and multiplying them at different opacities and color combinations, they are able to create a series of beautiful patterns that have a hidden meaning and importance. So if you ever find yourself stuck on how to build a unique pattern, consider using your brand’s letterforms.
32. Interlock various shapes
Want to create something that just looks sharp, colorful and geometric? Take a leaf from designer Thomas Kronbichler’s book and consider taking a few different shapes and colors and interlocking them together to create a sharp effect. This branding for the Italian music festival ‘Busk’, keeps the rest of the design super simple – just plain white serif type and simple dividers/borders. Let your geometric patterns shine and keep the rest simple for a sharp and striking design.
33. Cut it out
Is a printed geometric pattern just not cutting it for you? Consider introducing some die cutting into your designs to give it a tangible and unique effect. Have a look at these business cards by Smriti Kariwal that were inspired by “a view through a stained glass window and a linear geometric design.” Plus, such a unique and radical twist on a business card means you can leave the rest of the design super simple.
34. Go bold
If you’re looking for a simple, bold and high contrast design, consider creating a super simple pattern to match. This example by Daniel Brox Nordmo uses a thick, black chevron pattern that beautifully complements the simple serif typeface and minimal packaging. Note as well that Daniel has brought in the chevron geometric shape into the tags by die cutting them into a zigzag shape. Simple adjustments and a simple pattern can have a huge impact on your branding.
35. Keep it simple and elegant
On the topic of more minimal choices of patterns comes this design for Frank & Oak that keeps things simple, classy and clean by using a super simple stripe pattern. You don’t have to create something ornate and detailed to capitalize on geometric patterns, check out how effective this example is. The clean lines, simple color palette and sharp blocks of color help balance out the pattern and keep this design elegant and eye-catching.
36. Mix your mediums
Bring in a dash of handcrafted patterns and add in a splash of sharper graphic patterns for a unique and memorable contrast. Check out these Birchbox box designs by Mary Rabun that pairs handcrafted, painted pattern designs with sharper, faceted graphics to create an elegant and unique design. So, consider bringing together the analog and digital disciplines to create an originally amalgamated pattern design. Plus, creating elements of your pattern by hand means that nobody else in the world will have your exact pattern, which is always a plus!
37. Create a geometric portrait
There’s really no shortage for what geometric patterns can do. Check out this album cover by Flat-e that includes a geometric portrait of the artist. Simple geometric shapes, a few light textures, and some vivid colors, all come together to create a dimensional and striking portrait. Plus, when paired with a sleek gold sleeve, the design really leaps off of the page. So, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, consider trying to construct a portrait out of geometric shapes alone.
Love this design and want to see more? Check out these stunning album cover designs for more inspiration.
38. Get a little abstract
We’ve talked a lot about using geometric shapes and photography, but this example puts a little bit of a unique spin on that. Designed by Melissa Baillache for the Sydney Dance Company’s ‘Mirror Ball’, this design uses a simple photograph of a dancer and a grid pattern of circles to create an engrossing and beautiful design. With strategic cutouts, framing and colors, this piece channels the idea of mirrors, refraction and a mirror ball by using geometric patterning. It’s a little abstract, and a little experimental, and very effective. Break your image up into geometric grids and move them around. Let the shapes crop your image in an intriguing way and let it enhance your image.
39. Fill your patterns
Patterns can be incredibly functional tools, as well as beautifully aesthetic elements. Check out this website design by Built by Buffalo that uses hexagonal shapes filled with images, type, and/or graphics as the main links to the homepage. A unique and memorable spin on the typical link buttons, this design allows for Built by Buffalo to communicate their color palette and style in one quick, beautiful and functional way. Consider using a geometric pattern to display your content for a simple and effective way to make a lot of information look good.
40. Get on the grid
Kristine notes, “As fashion is always evolving and changing, we chose to use this as our main inspiration. These dots in the logo are used as a base to connect lines and creates the opportunity for a range of different variations of the logo.”
By using a simple grid as the foundation for their logo, Kristine and Daniel are able to create a myriad of geometric sub-logos and variations to suit any situation. Bonus: they are also able to pair all of these designs into one big pattern to use for their branding. So, beginning with a grid and developing your logo from there can allow you to create flexible and adaptable geometric designs at the drop of a hat.
41. A little texture
Love the faceted geometric pattern look, but not too keen on the sharpness of it? Consider adding in some subtle texture to soften it up a little. This business card design by Scott Hill uses faceted shapes and a beautiful gold typeface on the front, but the facets are broken up a little with very subtle patterning on some shapes. Just some dashes and lines make the sharp graphics a little more personal and fashionable. When paired with an elegant wireframe graphic on the opposite side, this business card screams style without being too harsh or sharp.
42. Seek shape inspiration everywhere
The best designs are the ones with meaning and thought behind them. And one that does just that is this branding set by Stefan Zimmerman for the Internationale Spieltage SPIEL, the largest trade event in the world for board games. Stefan has of course taken inspiration for the branding of this event from the Chinese puzzle Tangrams. Using simple geometric shapes, bold, flat colors and clever Tangram compositions, Stefan channels the idea of board games in this branding, making it strong, identifiable and visually stunning. Consider what shapes and patterns people associate with your project and introduce these into your design.
43. Less is more
Do you need some more inspiration for a more corporate branding? Check out this design by Stefania Criscuolo that uses a muted color palette and geometric shapes to brand the business ‘Antomic’. Stefania keeps things professional by using small hints of the pattern on most of the applications, just a thin bar or small block to keep things neat and tidy, but still with that dash of color and patterning now and then.
Keep in mind: you don’t have to flaunt your pattern as a major element in every application, sometimes less really is more.
44. Channel 8-bit art
We’ve briefly touched on pixels, but what about 8-bit art? Also known as pixel art, 8-bit art constructs graphics on a pixel level, creating blocky, sharp, but detailed art. Pete Tong has channeled 8-bit art in his personal branding by creating a geometric, blocky design (and type to match) that uses predominantly primary colors to create a sharp, modern and youthful brand. Why not consider channeling a little bit of geometric retro gaming graphics and 8-bit art into your designs?
45. Embrace foiling
You know what goes great with geometric designs? Foiling. Metallic foil finishes can give your geometric pattern some added class and sophistication. Check out these redesigned F. Scott Fitzgerald book covers by Coralie Bickford-Smith that just scream elegance. The geometric patterns, as inspired by the iconic art deco movement quite literally shine on the front of these books. Beautifully offset with simple serif type and a jewel-toned palette, these books use geometric patterning in a stunning, appropriate and classical way. Perhaps take some time to consider foiling finishes for your next geometric project.
46. Create unique portraits
A few geometric shapes and the right colors can come together to let you create some really clever designs. Check out this ‘Little White Lies’ magazine cover by Church of London. What Church of London have done here is created two portraits of characters from the movie ‘The Master’ out of geometric shapes, which then allowed them to color them in red and blue to allow for each image to occupy the same space but still exist as individual portraits when viewed through the right lens. Pretty cool, right? On top of that cleverness, the stylisation of the imagery is unique, sharp and striking, all thanks to geometric shapes.
47. Use patterns to differentiate
What a lot of businesses do is use colors to differentiate sectors, divisions, elements of the company, etc., which is a great system, but have you considered patterns? Simple geometric patterns colored differently to suit each sector can be a beautiful and functional way to differentiate and keep things in line. Check out this branding by Bruce Mau for The Hutchins Center that uses unique colored patterns for each division, a sophisticated and stylish way to bring patterns into the workplace.
48. Focus on the pattern
A well positioned and created pattern can act as a beautiful focal point for a design. Check out this packaging design by Kamil Piatkowski, that uses black geometric patterns to create stunning labels. No need for extravagant illustrations here, the sharp black pattern contrasts against the color of the liquid to create a brand in itself. So, if in the future you get stuck for a label idea, consider a strong and engrossing pattern instead.
49. Go minimal
Minimal designs can pair very well with geometric patterns as they often act to balance each other out. Check out this branding for the food truck ‘The Nordic’.
“The design represents the minimalist, timeless and constant of the Nordic culture,” Designer David Massara says, “The pattern takes inspiration from Scandinavian geometric patterns creating a powerful contrast and highlighting the inspiration of the natural environment of Scandinavia.”
Pairing the strong blue color, minimal logotype and simple elements with the busier, striking chevron pattern is incredibly effective and adds another element of recognisability to the branding.
50. Create a delicate pattern
Geometric patterns don’t all have to be about striking shapes and vivid colors. In fact, thin and delicate geometric shapes can be just as functional and beautiful as stronger, sharper ones. Check out this resume design, by using very thin and simple lines and shapes that match the light typeface perfectly, this design is kept clean, elegant and professional. Consider if a simpler, lighter pattern could bode a bit better for your next project like in the resume design below.
Over to you
Geometric patterns really are just about everywhere. I’m sure now that you’ve browsed through this list you’ll start noticing them everywhere. Collect effective examples and try to figure out why they are working, what they do differently and why you like them.