top of page
  • Writer's pictureRachel Goodchild

What is the relationship between pattern and design in the creative process?

Rachel Goodchild | Creating Pattern

Packaging sample © Rachel Goodchild

While the terms 'pattern' and 'design' are often used interchangeably, they do actually have distinct meanings in the context of art, fashion, and design.

The Meaning of Pattern

A pattern refers to a repeated decorative design comprised a motif or an arrangement of elements. These can be regular, predictable repetition of shapes, colours, lines or textures.

Patterns can be simple or complex and are often used to adorn surfaces such as fabrics, wallpapers, ceramics, and textiles. They can range in colour from a simple to complex.

Patterns can be created through various techniques such as drawing, painting, digital manipulation, or by using natural forms or geometric shapes.

The Meaning of Design

Design encompasses a broader concept that involves planning, conceptualising, and creating something with a specific purpose or function in mind.

Design is about problem-solving and finding creative solutions to meet the needs or objectives of a project or product.

While patterns are a component of design, design encompasses a wider scope, including factors such as functionality, usability, aesthetics, and user experience.

Design can refer to various disciplines such as graphic design, industrial design, interior design, fashion design, etc., each of which involves the application of design principles to create solutions in their respective fields.

Clarifying the difference

Below we have a sample of a simple box design and next to it my 'Prunus Blue' Pattern. The design element here is the box. What shape is the box going to be? What weight card are we going to use? How is the box going to open? And so on. Then we have the pattern that has been chosen to cover our final box.

1. Dieline explained

Below you can see the same box with a dieline around it. A dieline is the outline of a package or product's physical form. It represents the flat layout of a three-dimensional object, showing where the folds, cuts, and other structural elements are placed to create the final product.

This dieline is essential in packaging and product design, as it provides the blueprint for manufacturing and assembling the final product. The dieline will help guide the placement of the pattern, along with the graphics, and any other design elements. This will ensure that they are correctly positioned on the finished package.

Dieline sample © Rachel Goodchild

2. Placing a pattern within dieline

In the image below I have placed in my Pattern so that you can see how a dieline is a critical component of packaging and product design. This outline is serving as the structural blueprint that defines the shape, size, and layout of the final product. Here we can see how the pattern will look, whether there are any gaps showing, if the pattern is the right way up, etc.

Dieline sample © Rachel Goodchild

3. The overall design

In the next image below, we have the same box with the pattern, only this time I have added some sample text. This is all still part of the design layout. Just like the pattern in the image above, we also need to see if the text is on the correct side of the box with no mistakes.

Once we have checked everything, the dieline is often provided to manufacturers or printers along with the artwork and other specifications for production. Manufacturers will use the dieline to create the physical packaging, cutting and folding the material according to the outlined dimensions and instructions.

Dieline sample © Rachel Goodchild


A pattern is a specific element within a design, often characterised by its repetition and decorative nature, while design is the broader process of planning and creating something with a particular purpose or function. Patterns can be a part of a design, contributing to its visual appeal and aesthetic, but design encompasses a more comprehensive approach to problem-solving and creation of a final product.

An example I like is this quote from Steve Jobs. I think it explains it rather well.

”People think it's this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, 'Make it look good! ' That's not what we think design is. It's not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”


Rachel Goodchild | Design Blog

Creating Pattern for Textile, Product, Home & Packaging

Rachel is a member of ACID (Anti Copying In Design) & DACS (Design & Artists Copyright Society)​All copyright, design rights and other intellectual property rights in Rachel’s designs and products,

as well as images, text and design of this blog remain the property of Rachel Goodchild.

Any infringement of these rights will be vigorously pursued. ​Copyright Images © Rachel Goodchild 2023. All rights reserved.



Design Blog

bottom of page