Fractional Trace

60cm x 60cm graphical tile design, Adobe Illustrator

"Fractional Trace" was created as an entry for DesignTaleStudio's 2014 "Create Your Tile" competition. The brief for the competition required an innovative graphic design for a flat square tile of either 60 or 75 cm size that was consistent with the existing style of DesignTaleStudio.

I decided that I wanted to explore the possibility of a tile pattern that could be repeated in different ways on different edges, creating an impression larger than any single tile, yet without being repetitious. I was also interested in responding to human movement across space, and the passage of time that accompanies our travel.

The design I created responds to human movement across space, and the passage of time that accompanies our travel – the sound of footsteps echoing, and the many paths that people take, always overlapping, stopping, and starting.

 I melded these two influences to create my final design. To express it, I made two tiles expressing the same set of colours and drawn on the same grid. One tile is a series of 90-degree arcs, and the other renders the path of those arcs as right angles with curved corners. These tiles can be used separately or together to create a variety of patterns. Further variation can also be expressed by mirroring the designs on the two tiles to create two more.

The arcs crisscross the individual tile, and when joined into a grid, create a series of expanding circles and incomplete arcs. 90 degree rotations of individual tiles redirect arc elements, creating variation in the larger pattern, interrupting the possibility of some circles from forming while contributing to others. These expanding circles reference a visual metaphor of the sound of footsteps falling, like ripples in a pond. Over time, in a space, many different footsteps will be heard, at different sounds, paces, and volumes.

The continuation of the arcs over multiple tiles also references the human usage of space, in terms of the many paths that people take through the space. Some create loops, some falter, and some may extend on indefinitely. Instead of struggling with an attempt to force all paths to match up, some simply come to a halt at the tile’s edge, if there is no corresponding path on the next tile. I wanted to utilise the tile’s own boundary to help create contrast, differentiating the lines that continue from tile to tile with those that terminate, rather than trying to create a “perfect” tiling pattern.