Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Giddy for Greek Key

Although the geometric maze-like design motif characterized by right angles is commonly known as the Greek key, its origins expand to other civilizations as well. The Greeks used this pattern extensively in temple carvings and pottery.  The Romans used it throughout architecture and mosaic design. This pattern also dates back to ornamentation throughout Egypt, Asia, and even to the Hopi people of North America.

According to popular belief, the design is a reference to ancient Greek Mythology of Theseus defeating the Minotaur (human with the head of a bull). Theseus used the classical maze or labyrinth as a prison for the Minotaur.  A British museum showcases an ancient piece of pottery with Theseus dragging the Minotaur out of the labyrinth.

Other commonly believed meanings include sea waves, bonds of love, friendship, creative energy, four seasons, and eternal life.

Since the Greek key is a strong yet simple geometric pattern, its popularity continues today....it can be found everywhere from textiles, furniture, and architecture, to landscape design.

As I have mentioned in several previous posts, I am obsessed with all things Greek key! I find its strong graphic design to be equally energetic and calming. Its rhythmic, almost hypnotic pattern is aesthetically pleasing.

Attached are some photos from various sources...

Greg Natalie via Decor Pad, Jonathan Adler Greek key rug...love the strong graphic punch of the large scale rug paired with the bright blue chairs.  I have always admired a geometric black and white pattern used in conjunction with a single bold color such as yellow, kelly green, blue (as above) or hot pink.

Rachel Reider Interiors, Jonathan Adler navy Greek key rug...love her keen sense (and brave approach) to color!

Wendy Labrum via Decor Pad, Greek key fabric on chairs...as a side note, I love the strong impact of the framed wall series, particularly the large scale mats used for much smaller subject matter...additionally love the chandelier, graphic lines, yet delicate and charming!
Amy Morris via Decor Pad, Greek key green velvet chair...this motif is very complimentary to the lush quality of velvet.
Zhush navy and gold Greek key dish
Odietamoblog via Decor Pad white Greek key mirror...love the beautiful Chinoiserie wallpaper as well!

Horchow Greek key rug...interesting incorporation of this motif into a checkerboard pattern
Horchow Greek key file drawers
Horchow Greek key mirror
Horchow Greek key gold lamp...I would LOVE a pair of these for our family room  (discount day perhaps?)
Worlds Away Greek key lamp...or these!
Worlds Away Greek key end table
Worlds Away Greek key nesting tables...I love the bold graphic pattern mixed with a more delicate gold linear structure.
Lindsey Coral Harper (House Beautiful) via Decor Pad...hard to see in the picture, but the gold pendant has a Greek key design as well!

Arcadia Greek key cotton throws

Maison Luxe Greek key bench

Lilly Bunn Interiors via Decor Pad, Greek key rug...again, I admire her bold play on color...she successfully pairs the unexpected bright orange with lavenders and purples.

Jamie Herzlinger via Decor Pad Greek key window treatments
Jill Sorensen via Live Like You, Greek key duvet and Euro shams
Jill Sorensen via Live Like You Greek, key pillows (above and below photos)...as mentioned in my prior post about loving all things kelly/grass green, I absolutely LOVE the green velvet one on top!

Jill Sorensen Greek key velvet pillows - how adorable in this cheery yellow and green kitchen!  Margaritas anyone?

West Elm Greek key duvet and shams

Etsy LaFortune Linens, Navy Greek key pillow

Etsy LaFortune Linens, Greek key trim on curtain panels....I have seen a smaller Greek key trim used frequently, but I particularly love the large scale of this trim.

According to Wikipedia, the Greek key design is described as follows:

"A meander or meandros[1] is a decorative border constructed from a continuous line, shaped into a repeated motif. Such a design is also called the Greek fret or Greek key design, although these are modern designations. On the one hand, the name "meander" recalls the twisting and turning path of the Maeander River in Asia Minor, and on the other hand, as Karl Kerenyi pointed out, "the meander is the figure of a labyrinthin linear form".[2] Among some Italians, these patterns are known as Greek Lines. Meanders are common decorative elements in Greek and Roman art. In ancient Greece they appear in many architectural friezes, and in bands on the pottery of ancient Greece from the Geometric Period onwards. The design is common to the present-day in classicizing architecture. The meander is a fundamental design motif in regions far from a Hellenic orbit: labyrinthine meanders ("thunder" pattern[3]) appear in bands and as infill on Shang bronzes, and many traditional buildings in and around China still bear geometric designs almost identical to meanders. The pattern also appears on the quintessential New York City paper coffee cup, the Anthora. They were among the most important symbols in ancient Greece; they, perhaps, symbolized infinity and unity; many ancient Greek temples incorporated the sign of the meander. Greek vases, especially during their Geometric Period, were likely the genesis for the widespread use of meanders; alternatively, very ocean-like patterns of waves also appeared in the same format as meanders, which can also be thought of as the guilloche pattern." 

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