What is a Harlequin Pattern?Kristin Crane
Diamonds are a popular motif in textile design. As a result, there are a lot of different terms textile designers use to describe the different types of diamond designs they create. As you search our licensable library, you’ll see in the Theme search menu an option to view Harlequin. What exactly does that mean?
Textile designers use the term harlequin to describe a diamond pattern with elongated shapes arranged vertically. They are point to point, sometimes very close together, almost touching. Sometimes though, there is space between the diamonds and the negative space forms a lattice effect. The diamonds are usually in colors with high contrast. These types of designs are a great place to play with color. They can be wildly multicolored with lots of different colors or simply bold with only two colors.
Where does the name harlequin come from?
The name comes from Commedia Dell’arte, an Italian theatrical form popular throughout Europe in the 16th-century. On stage, the harlequin characters were mischievous clowns with a sharp wit providing comic relief in the story. Their costumes were created with fabric scraps pieced together in an elongated diamond pattern. Over time, this type of diamond pattern became associated with other funny, mischievous characters such as court jesters.
Today, most patterns are printed, not sewn from scraps. However, textile mills can produce these patterns on jacquard looms for a woven version. Harlequin prints appear regularly on the fashion runways often as different fashion designers work with this classic look into their collections.
In the home, a harlequin print makes for a striking choice in a residential or commercial interior. When printed at a large scale, it can create a striking accent wall. Alternately, at a small scale, it can make elegant upholstery for chairs, ottomans, or pillows.
Looking for a harlequin? We have several different options in our licensable library.