The Zen of Floral Pattern Design

From the Cecilie O Classic Collection: Modern Vintage – Floral Pattern

meditation-quote-2_cecilie-oI come from Norway- Winter Wonderland, and like all good Norwegians I thought it has the best of great snowscapes. But the serene beauty of snow-covered temple roofs and Zen gardens in Japan make for some of the most magical sights of all….. a surreal white fairy blanket.

It was around Christmas in 2005 that a heavy snowfall took us by surprise in Kyoto, and over the  the years I kept returning to the photographs that we took back then, again and again… until one day I set to work to create a pattern to remember this magical day. I felt like a Zen monk contemplating the significance of a single snowflake

Chrysanthemum themes from traditional temple metal work, and a circular motif from temple cloth make up the core inspiration. You can see both in the photographs below. It was a long, grinding road to refine the composition and find a simple color scheme. The result is a Scandinavian take on iconic Japanese imagery-  a floral pattern called “Kyoto”, with much affection.

How “Arabian Nights” Inspired My Scandinavian Designs

From the Cecilie O Classic Collection: Modern Vintage – Floral Pattern

Floral-Pillow - Cecilie-OFor most of my adult life I’ve been a nomad, living in many countries, seeking adventure in the foreign and unknown. I think I took my cue from Simbad the Sailor, the hero of the famous fairy tale from Arabian Nights. As a young teenager I devoured those tales of sailing on the Seven Seas, and not the least the vivid imagery from ancient Persia, Egypt, India and China.

I made many illustrations from Arabian Nights back then. Imagine the excitement when my oldest sister brought home her boyfriend from Morocco, who duly inscribed my collection with “1001 Nights” in real Arabic…. Today, I can’t take my eyes off the exquisite, swirling forms of Persian and Arabian pattern designs. Their rhythmic beauty make me believe that the Genie in Aladdin’s lamp has actually been at work.
Thanks to wonderful source books with historical patterns and images, I had the joy of transforming authentic shapes into a tapestry of my own floral patterns, all paying homage to this great heritage.

Recently, I found an article in The Textile Blog about this design influence using the same illustrations that inspired me: “The Influence of Islamic Decoration on the Victorian”

You can buy the pillows and iPhone cases here.

Below, you can see many of the Persian designs that inspired my work , along with  floral pattern design variations that I created.


Introducing Cecilie O at Disseny Hub Barcelona / A-FAD

Cecilie O at the DHUBBarcelona is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, where Gaudi’s colorful architecture draws millions of visitors every year. I have recently had the opportunity to exhibit at the new Disseny Hub Barcelona / A-FAD, that opened in February 2014 with wonderful design collections on display.

The exhibition was called “El Japó, País de Contrastos” (Japan, Country of Contrast), and my contribution was a large digital design that combines traditional Japanese and Nordic imagery, highlighted with gold hand painting. I wanted to bring a playful spirit to this work, symbolic of my life in Japan.

Along with Genrroku folding screen designs by Sadato Kurotake, a modern weaving scupture by Megumi Koyama and music by Shusaku Akita, the exhibition attracted many visitors. The exhibition was curated by Jacqueline Teissier Okuma (Jackie & Partners) and Magda Polo Pujadas (A-FAD).

The exhibition was also part of the official program that commemorates 400 years of relations between Spain and Japan.


Now Nordic Design for Pickles the Frog

Cecilie O Nordic Design for Pickles the Frog

Pickles the Frog goes skiing on a tissue box

Japanese people from all walks of life love kawaii (cute) characters.

I was commissioned to make custom design for one of Japan’s popular characters, Pickles the Frog, who was popularized many years ago by Nakajima Corporation. Pickles always smiles, and for his sweetness he is known to have comforted children after the Tohoku earthquake.
Nakajima is the main partner of Sanrio (Hello Kitty), and operates the Sanrio stores in the US.

My job was to take Pickles to Norway and let him have fun. I sent him skiing in a vintage scene, dressed in traditional ski outfits as it used to be in yonder day. Last winter season you could meet skiing Pickles.

 

Below: illustration, sketches and products.



Why Meditation is Great

A Simple Tool for  Creativity, Resilience and Joy

meditation-qquote-1_cecilie oAs a designer and illustrator, I get a lot of mileage out of meditation. I meditate every single day because there is simply no better tool to harness creativity and joy and to build resilience against the peaks and valleys of life.

Meditation is not about finding an empty void of nothingness. It’s about taming the crushing waves of the mind and diving into the depth of the soul in search of untold inner treasures.

Think of your mind as an onion with layers upon layers. When we dream, we are all very creative. Stilling the incessant chatter of the mind, we can peel off the layer that masks our imagination and let creativity flow freely from the subconscious mind.

In such a meditative state, you will discover an inner world that is filled with resplendent colors, delicious complexities and surprising ideas.

Dive deeper still to peel off more layers, and you will find soothing and sublime states of mind that are impossible to describe.

Some days your meditation will seem useless because your mind refuses to quiet down. Some days you’ll sense a deep inner joy, and on other days you’ll experience a  flood of new ideas. All in all, it adds greatly to the quality to life.

And the good news is that all it takes is daily practice. If you want to become adept at playing the piano, you had better keep at it day in and day out. Becoming a good meditator requires exactly the same.

I look forward to share with you the art and science of meditation in this blog.