Stipes or lines, which name comes first for you? It’s up to you how you describe them. We see straight or wiggly ones everywhere – as they are part of our daily lives. From zebra crossings to your favourite t-shirt, have any of us ever thought why or where these graphics actually came from?
Lines are perceived as vertical or horizontal but they are also dotted, dashed, diagonal and curved; each line works to tell a story and when more than one line comes together, art, fashion and designs are created.
Lines had been used in uniforms for sailors and they have also been used to encourage road safety e.g zebra crossings. Never the less, going back hundreds of years, stripes have a long association with the loss of freedom.
For example, generic prisoners who committed crimes would be required to wear a uniform made from black and white vertical lines. During the Holocaust, people were made to wear tarnished striped uniform, it would make them stand out in the natural environment and make it harder for them to escape. It made them look and feel like prisoners, even though they were innocent.
Linear uniforms for sailors have a memorable 160-year history -the patterns of stripes and the colours made it easier to identify a sailor if they fell overboard. The uniform would give a sailor the chance of being rescued before drowning.
From water and roads, to sailors and drivers. In 1951, the Zebra crossing was introduced in Britain, made up of lines designed to save lives. Zebra crossings give drivers and road users traffic awareness to minimise road accidents and ending lives prematurely. These stripes let them know in advance, beware someone could be crossing the road.
Creatively, lines are now part and parcel of our visual landscape not just for signs of danger or protection but also for fashion, art, design and architecture which utilise them.
Well known for his installations, artist Jim Lambie focuses on visual art and the manipulation of lines to create interesting pieces of work. He is capable of creating illusions with the adaptation of curved lines and the blend of vertical and horizontal lines together from colour to monochrome.
The use of lines changes the ambiance of a gallery space into an energetic and emotional place of sensory illusion, creating rhythm that cultivates the spectator. He initially implemented the use of lines in his installations due to his limited budget and began to use materials that were more accessible like tape as opposed to expensive paints.
British pop artist, Bridget Riley focuses on the use of colour, monochrome and wiggly lines to manipulate the desired image with paint. She has the skill of painting optical illusions that are complex and emotive.
Art and design go hand in hand with fashion. Paul Smith is well known for his signature stripes in socks, ties, bags and accessories. This has sparked another collaboration with CARAN D’ACHE – a Swiss manufacturing company that specialises in colouring and writing instruments.
The new CARAN D’ACHE collaboration resulted in the creation of their limited edition 849 ballpoint pen in 8 packaging colours and the supracolor soft pencil set of 8 soft water-soluble pencils in a metal pencil case. The collection did not only demonstrate the craftmanship of CARAN D’ACHE but also Paul Smith’s love for colours and stripes.
Heritage brand of 171 years Huntsman on Savile Row, collaborated with Alexandra Llewellyn to enhance the elegant and bespoke hand-crafted backgammon board.
Backgammon has been around for more than 5,000 years and challenges your mind with strategy, tactics and probability. Huntsman partnered with Alexandra Llewellyn to bring to life Huntsman’s house tweeds to celebrate British craftmanship and the great British countryside. Backgammon is not quite stripes but more triangles and dots but still it is a stunning collaboration.
The three-line stripe design comes to mind when we think of sports brand Adidas. Some say the logo represents Adolf Dassler’s (German cobbler and inventor who founded Adidas), three sons. Whereas the block of lines as part of their logo could be that the three lines together form the shape of a mountain, which does represent the challenges athletes face.
Brand history and heritage are both important to Adidas, and this year sees them reaching their 50 years anniversary of the iconic Adidas superstars shoe, a timeless design that is also known as the Shell Toe.
Originally designed as a low-top version of the Pro Model basketball shoe and they caught the attention of professional basketball player, Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Superstars made the transition from court to street shoes, due to the hip-hop and skateboarding scene. Adidas Superstars were the signature aesthetic for stars like Run D.M.C (Run DMC also went as far as writing a song about their Addidas and created their own Shell Toes with Addidas).
Today Adidas Superstars are worn by actors, singers, rappers, models and influencers. And the Superstar is very much part of the youth culture today, as it was 50 years ago.
So stripes or lines or whatever you choose to call them – are very much ingrained in our minds to go faster, to look cooler and to stand out.
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