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Contours in Nature – design ideas

Blue & green agate slice painting by Joanne Griffin at Arnold & Bird

Following on from the contours in nature mood board, we’re now exploring the design potential in this topographic trend!

First up is a painting of an agate slice I did that I’m currently reworking into a product range. Although not strictly a landscape contour, I love the topography lines that are reminiscent of these curves. Agates are beautiful examples of luxe nature, where natural objects are so decadent without any man made influence. It’s beautiful to surround yourself with little pieces of opulence like this.

Topographic drawing by Joanne Griffin at Arnold & Bird
Topographic drawing by Joanne Griffin at Arnold & Bird

These two pencil sketches of contour lines are filled in with geometric shapes, representing cities or circles. I like the patchwork style and contrast between the natural formations and regulated lines. I’m not sure what direction I want to take this idea in yet, it’s one for the backburner for now. If you have any ideas then I’d love to hear them!

city grid geometric surface pattern shower curtain by Arnold & Bird on Society6

This city grid is from a drawing I did at college while in Art Foundation, based on a project about Las Vegas. I loved the grid structured layout of this city and it just seems like a town like no other. Las Vegas has always been a place I’d love to visit, however tacky and crazy it may be! I digitally created the original drawing into this repeat surface pattern design and uploaded it to Society6 where it features on a range of products, including this shower curtain.

Abyss Table by Christopher Duffy

I had to highlight these two design pieces as an amazing and innovative take on this theme. The Abyss Table by Christopher Duffy takes the everyday coffee table and turns it into a work of art. The depth that is created through layering wood and glass is remarkable and it really feels like you are looking (or could fall) so deep into the gorgeous blue ocean beneath you. It is a stunning piece that really creates a focal point in a room.

Wood chart wooden topographic lake

The Wood Chart uses laser cutters to carve the contours of each of their water inspired pieces. Once layered together and hand stained, these vast landscapes turn into glorious detailed and beautiful pieces of art that would look seriously impressive in any home. Plus you can also pick a piece that is personal to you due to their vast range!


Thanks for checking out my contoured inspired designs and inspirations. If you have any work inspired by this trend then please share it as I’d love to see your take.

Joanne Griffin signature


Images sources: My own designs unless otherwise stated



Natures Contours – Inspirational Design Mood Board

Natural contour design moodboard by Arnold & Bird

Contours in nature have fascinated me since London Design Festival about five years ago, so this mood board is dedicated to the innovative designs that celebrate this natural topographic trend.

Natural contours create form through curves and lines in mountains and lakes, as well as undulations in the ground. Although not from nature, I also love the structure of how cities, towns and estates create shapes too.

I love how linear designs can be made to look like 3D structures, even when they are two dimensional, and this is a beautiful feature of contour lines that add extra depth to a designers work.

Adding structural elements means light relief is created through weaving or the layering of materials. I particularly love this when used in paper or fabric due to the tactile nature that is formed.

Contour (noun) 1. (usually contours) An outline representing or bounding the shape or form of something.

1.1 An outline of a natural feature such as a hill.

Contour (verb) 2. Mark (a map or diagram) with contour lines.


Key design styles to be inspired by:

  • Creating light relief by layering materials or drawings that create depth or the illusion of this
  • City grid shapes create a new take on the geometric trend to update this popular theme
  • Mixing natural and man-made materials to represent city and nature (such as wood and resin) in furniture and home accessories
  • Repeated linear patterns. Using lines in an irregular way to create uneven repeats.

Does the lay of the land inspire your work, and if so do you prefer natural or man-made contours? Let me know in the comments or over on Insta!

Joanne Griffin signature

Images sources (clockwise from top left): 1. Tracie Cheng 2. Marnie Karger 3. Eric Zelinski 4. Topographic map 5. Vincent Mauger 6. SummitRidge 7. Huffington Post 8. Lela Rose at New York Fashion Week Spring 2014
P.s. Wanna see more more amazing designs inspired by this topographic trend? Check out my Contour Pattern Pinterest board!

Arnold & Bird surface pattern designs now available as products on Society6!

Bohemian Pink Feathers Surface Pattern throw pillow by Arnold & Bird on Society6
Moody Green Tropical Feather Surface Pattern rucksack by Arnold & Bird on Society6

Exciting news – the range of Arnold & Bird surface pattern designs are now available to purchase as gorgeous home and fashion accessories on Society6!

You’ll find rucksacks, travel mugs, tech cases, throw pillows, leggings, clocks, duvets and so many more products that all feature my exclusive range of repeat designs.

Flowers and Succulents on Black & White Stripes Surface Pattern ceramic travel mug by Arnold & Bird on Society6
Pink Geometric Striped Surface Pattern iPhone case by Arnold & Bird on Society6

Society6 aims is to empower artists around the world to focus on what they do best, create inspiring and unique artwork, while they produce the product and deliver it to customers.

It’s an exciting marketplace that features thousands of artists on a creative and supportive platform. I’m thrilled to be part of it and if you haven’t seen the site before then do check out their awesome range of goodies on offer from all the talented designers in their network.

Navajo Feather Circle Surface Pattern clock by Arnold & Bird on Society6
Geometric Monochrome and Coloured Square Surface Pattern iPad case by Arnold & Bird on Society6

Society6 is home to hundreds of thousands of artists from around the globe, uploading and selling their original works as 30+ premium consumer goods from rucksacks to wall clocks. They create, we produce and fulfill, and every purchase pays an artist. Simple, but huge.

Geometric Monochrome and Coloured Square Surface Pattern t-shirt by Arnold & Bird on Society6
Floating Feathers on Blue Surface Pattern shower curtain by Arnold & Bird on Society6
Moody Green Tropical Feather Surface Pattern leggings by Arnold & Bird on Society6

Do check out the amazing work on Society6 and let me know your fave design, I’d love to hear!

Joanne Griffin signature





Moody tropical – design

Tropical feather repeat surface pattern print design by Arnold & Bird - product development consultancy and design

Following on from the moody tropical research last week I’ve produced a few designs and paintings to reflect this trend.

The deep hues on the feather print is one of my favourite surface pattern designs. I love the colour combination of the dark teal with pops of yellow alongside the simple repeat. I would definitely want this printed onto any stationery products!

Tropical palm leaf painting with exotic animal print by Arnold & Bird - product development consultancy and design

Personally I love the idea of using animal skins as the patterns within other tropical motifs. When you think an illustration should be designed a certain way, you can create a totally different look by adding in a unique pattern to what is expected or accepted.

I’ve added snake scales to this tropical leaf to add texture and a point of difference. More definition on the pattern would be good to develop this further and create something with more impact.

Making a paper leaf bouquet that has pops of animal print in would an an unexpected twist to wedding styling, plus add a fun element to the day.

Tropical bird illustration painting by Arnold & Bird - product development consultancy and design

To add character and a new take on this trend I love the idea of using exotic animals mixed with leaves, tropical undergrowth and sunsets. It would be super cute for kiddos and tweens if the animals had a bit of personality. Plus it also works well for fashion and home accessories too.

This is my bird of paradise with swishy, bright feathers looking to nest somewhere pretty!

What’s your interpretation of this trend and would you use it? Let me know using #ArnoldandBird on Instagram.

Joanne Griffin signature


Photos and designs by Joanne Griffin.



Greenery – Pantone Colour of the Year 2017 – design

Greenery Pantone Colour of the Year 2017 leaf wreath painting by Arnold & Bird

As discussed last week, my recent designs have a direct link to the Pantone Colour of the Year – hence the mood board on this Greenery trend.

To be really honest when it came to painting I’ve struggled and had my ups and downs over the last few months. You know those times when sometimes it seems ok and at other points it feels like all your creativity has wandered off never to return? Yep, I was there.

So I ordered some decent new paints and sat down (after a little frustrated cry) for five hours, took my time and just painted. And you know what…I loved it again.

The painting above is my initial attempt to ease myself in. The snippet below is the piece I’m really happy with. I’m actually planning on using this in a product so I’m keeping it under wraps for now. Sorry there’s no full reveal yet!

Greenery Pantone Colour of the Year 2017 leaf wreath painting snippet by Arnold & Bird

Does anyone else follow the Pantone Colour of the Year, and if so does it influence your work? I’d love to hear!

Joanne Griffin signature





Mark making – design

Mark making mood board design trends Arnold & Bird

Obviously you’d be a fool to think it was easy to put ‘simple’ marks together… Hmm, well I have to admit I was a bit foolish but I’ll own up to it and hang my head in shame.

BUT, what I can also confess is making my mark making mood board really helped collate my thoughts on style, layout and colour which resulted in making the design process really enjoyable! My work is rather a ‘beautiful mess’ but I enjoyed creating both the painted and digital designs. My aim? Keep developing this style as I’d love it to evolve and feel really confident with it.

Mark making drawing and design process - Arnold & Bird trends

Mark making painted design - Arnold & Bird trends
Mark making digital design - Arnold & Bird trends

Crushing on these fashion designs that have hit the mark making nail on the head!

Mark making fashion Arnold & Bird trends

How would you use this in your work? Leave a comment below or tag your interpretation on social media with #ArnoldAndBirdTrends. I’ll be @arnoldandbird on Instagram and Facebook looking out for you!

Can’t wait to see!

Joanne Griffin signature

Fashion images sources, from left to right: 1. John Lewis 2. Bottega Veneta Resort 2014 collection


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The Unseen – Curiosity of the month

The Unseen - Air

The Unseen first popped into my world when I attended a trend briefing seminar at LS:N Global. They approach design by merging it with science to create something that not only looks beautiful but also reflects what is going on in the world around us.

Their piece ‘Air’ is an almost feather-like cape, made using wind reactive ink that changes colour and reflects the otherwise unseen turbulence that surrounds us as we go about our daily lives. It’s fascinating how they are awakening technology to create visual representations of how we are feeling. And pretty amazing too!

To me this piece seems more important than ever with the constant changes in today’s world. As we try and keep up, especially in the world of social media which can feel distancing at times, it’s great to see how we can express ourselves in new and visual ways.


Until next time,

Joanne Griffin signature

Image sources: The Unseen




Decorative feathers – design

Decorative feather trend design - Arnold & Bird

In the last post we dived into the feather trend for inspiration and started exploring how this theme can be applied in different ways.

Today I’m sharing a little bit of my interpretation – from initial sketches to final designs:

Feather drawings - Arnold & Bird

Moody blue feather surface pattern design repeat

Navajo feather circle repeat surface pattern design

Want to see more feathery designs? Hop over to my surface pattern portfolio!

So tell me… what’s your take on this theme and how would you interpret it into your work? Leave me a comment below or tag your interpretation on social media with #ArnoldAndBirdTrends. You can find me @arnoldandbird on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


Can’t wait to see your feathered designs!

Joanne Griffin signature




After surfing it’s always a pasty


So I went surfing in Morocco (more on that soon). One thing we learnt quickly is that surfing is a very physical activity and we would always welcome the ice cream man, sweet pastry selling man or lunch that was provided for us everyday. And when i say that I mean welcome it with open arms and hungry stomachs.

So this mixed media picture by Norfolkboy from particularly rang true when I came home and saw it! I just love he colourful blocks and how the illustration is combined.

Image source: Norfolkboy via

New Designers 2013

Beth Lamont Tree Top Balloon3_905

As I said a year ago, I love the New Designers show. I thought this year was particularly good and a few exhibitors really caught my eye. The first was Beth Lamont – I loved her ceramic hot air balloons. The delicate nature of them with the silver works really well and I love the pattern on the balloon as well.

Chloe Emma Textiles  burnt feathers

Chloe Emma Textiles bones

I also loved the raw nature of these burnt feathers from Chloe Emma. The contrast between their delicate and rough nature and the white background is simple but beautiful. I also love these bones and how their are wound with thread as well. Not something I would normally go for but they are so interesting.

Image sources:

Beth Lamont

Chloe Emma Textiles