With the craze for geometric patterns and hard lines at full tilt in 2014, it’s safe to say that the popularity of herringbone and chevron designs that emerged in recent years is still going strong. These sophisticated zigzag patterns have been making quite a splash both in the fashion and interior design worlds in the last few years and are still being used everywhere, including floors, walls, fabrics and even furniture. With visually striking geometric lines, herringbone and chevron patterns are unique decorative features, adding lively dimension to any space.
A Little Chevron History
The chevron pattern in art has been around for a while, dating back to ancient Greek pottery carvings from about 1800 BC. Fast forward a few thousand years and the chevron begins to appear in symbols of heraldry (like coat of arms), and later becoming a badge or insignia of rank used by military forces and police.
The Art Deco Movement of the 1920’s and 30’s, with its emphasis on symmetrical, geometric forms, brought the chevron pattern to the forefront and the zigzag exploded again in the 60’s and 70’s when fashion designer Pierre Cardin and the Italian design house of Missoni made it an integral part of their fashion collections.
Today, the chevron probably pattern owes its popularity to Target: in 2011, the retailer launched an affordable line of Missoni fashions which sold out in less than 24 hours and the Target.com site crashed many times. Many believe that was the real taking off point for the chevron/zigzag look.
A Little Herringbone History
Named for its resemblance to the skeleton of the herring fish, the herringbone pattern can be traced back to the Egyptian textiles and metalwork, having been discovered in the textiles and jewelry of ancient Egyptian kings. Around 500 BC, Rome began to build an expansive road system, called the Viae Publicae, to move people and products efficiently throughout the vast Roman Empire. The herringbone pattern was used in the road construction, as the interlocking pattern created a very resilient paving pattern. Over the years, nearly 50,000 miles of Roman roadways were created using this system. Herringbone has Celtic roots too: horsehair herringbone cloth dating back to around 600 B.C. has been found in Ireland, which explains why the pattern is still a traditional choice for tweed.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, many of the construction techniques of classical antiquity were lost and forgotten. Herringbone resurfaced again during the European Renaissance, becoming a desired architectural feature and soon after, the pattern gained relevance and became a choice for parquet floors.
Chevron vs Herringbone
A herringbone pattern is really just made up of interlocking chevrons. The difference is all in the zig and the zag:
Chevron is an inverted V-shaped pattern. The “pieces” are the exact same length and create a perfectly straight line on both sides.
At first glance, herringbone is very similar to chevron, but instead of the ends lining up with one another, one end overlaps the edge of the other, creating an entirely different look.
Whether it’s herringbone or chevron as your pattern of choice, these urbane geometric patterns are a perfect way to liven up any space. Despite the ancient roots and classic rectangular shapes, these exquisite zigzags are dynamic, distinctive and still relevant even in today’s most contemporary designs.
Many of the tile collections by GIO offer lean, plank-sized tiles that can be used to create beautiful and timeless chevron and herringbone patterned floors and walls. Let us help you take your designs not just from good to great—but from great to extraordinary. We’re here to work with you and would love to hear from you!