Official Artist
Carlos Nathansohn
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Surface Design

Research by Carlos Nathansohn



We present the general concept of “Design” according to the definition made by the international body, the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design / ICSID, a concept also adopted by the Brazilian Program of Design: 

“Industrial Design is a creative activity that finds its goal in determining the formal properties of industrially produced objects. The so called formal properties must not be understood only through its exterior characteristics but, above all, the structural and function relationships that make an object (or a system of an object), a coherent unit, from the point of view of both the producer’s as well as the consumer’s. Industrial Design covers every aspect of the human environment conditioned by the industrial production.”



The term “Surface Design” is generally used in its original English form and so is officially used in the Electronic jargon.


In Portuguese it is called “(Industrial) Design of Patterns”. However the term is linked to the textile field and to patterns printed on cloth material. The French have also adopted the word “design” from the English, adding the term , thus making . So we notice that the word has acquired its own meaning, linked to industrial production.


ArtThe Flower flagMugArt in colored pencil, printed by brazilian Porcelanas Schmidt

 Surface Designis a technical and creative activity aiming at the creation of two-dimensional (2D) images (visual and touchable textures), specifically projected for the construction and/or the treatment of surfaces, presenting aesthetic and functional solutions adequate to a variety of materials and processes of hand-made and industrial building.


Areas of performance are: Textile (patterned material, plain cloth, knitted goods, lace, tapestry, weavering), papers (wall papers, wrapping papers, large panels), ceramics, glasses, synthetic materials and digital images (web sites, videos, games, etc…)


The more we study, more we identify the use of surface design in several sectors of human performance. It is a field in permanent expansion, following society’s development, in-between other fields of design and moving through virtual and concrete dimensions.


Surface Design can be considered a fairly new style of design in Brazil, with very little attention given to it on the college level. The research “Surface Design – Integration Between Art, Technology and Industry”, developed since 1997 by ProfessorEvelise Rüthschilling, aims at the creation of a body of knowledge about this subject.


The continuous pattern designer must have dominion over the effects cause on the composition by the repetition, as well as the known elements of visual language as the dot. The line, the form, texture, color, direction, etc…, that make up the project.



 The concept of “repetition”, in the Surface Design context, is the organization of the formal elements contained in the design in units or modules, which are repeated in fixed intervals according to a determined system, creating a pattern. It is an important pre-requisite to the surface designer the understanding of the repetition as a technical resource and also as a possibility of expression, for on several instances during the repetition of the module, unexpected and interesting visual differences appear, provoking a dialogue with its creator.


Pattern_Darwinist brazilian frogs



Renata Rubim,Designer from Rio Grande do Sul:

“Surface Design is any kind of bi-dimensional design that doesn’t have a commitment with Graphic Design. The emphasis must not necessarily be in the repetition. On a wall project, any mural project, can be a an artistic work or a Surface Design. The difference, in my opinion, is in the authorship. If the project was made by an artist, its product will be artistic. If by a designer, it will be a design.”


Zorávia Bettiol,textile artist:

“I believe that man, in the moment of his life’s dawn on this planet, as he created a form in either a random or an organized way, he was coming up with Surface Design. These forms may have been simple or complex, painted or engraved, and the surface may have been the sand on a beach, the surface of rocks, the bark of trees, his own body, the weaving of baskets, ceramics, his utensils, tools and fabric, as well as accessories and adornments that made him beautiful. Surface Design meets man from the Paleolithic until today, in every instance of his life whether private or public, in all its complexities.”

After a glance by Haruka Ashida Ostley ...... and so, since 1761 with Kasper Faber, in Nüremberg, Colored Pencils became no longer a child's toy, to trace with lightness and harmony the technological world of pixels and plotters.

Sources: UFRGS-Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul/ NDS-Nucleo de Design de Superficie /Profa. Evelise Anicet Rüthschilling

http://penta.ufrgs.br/~evelise/DSuper/conceit.htmhttp://www.nds.ufrgs.br/usoteorico/dsprincipiobasico.phpRenata Rubim, designer gaúcha

Zorávia Bettiol, artista têxtil

Surface Design Association


English text translated by Bossa-Nova musician Billy Blanco Jr.

over 11 years ago 0 likes  5 comments  0 shares
Photo 251614
Ola Carlos, Thank you so much for sharing about the surface design. It was very interesting. It is amazing to take your artwork, and create a repetitional design. As your research said, it does create unexpected visual appearance! I think almost your original work was much more personal feel to it, but after the repetition of its work, the possibility became much more open. And it became more about the sharing the experience of the work with viewer.... do you know what I am trying to say??? sorry, its so hard to express sometime. ;)) Anyways, very interesting!
over 11 years ago
Photo 31055
Although I don't understand the technical, I still appreciate reading it...very interesting.
over 11 years ago
Photo 166869
Hi Carlos, sorry it took so long to get back to you. I've been busy moving to a new apartment! Anyway, great entry. Thanks for providing so much in-depth information and research. I particularly enjoy the textural quality of your patterns --- it almost has a 3-D effect! Very cool.
over 11 years ago
Photo 319485
Thank you so much Amigo for sharing your talented surface designs. You have an amazing skill and as always I am inspired by their beauty!! ~Shairah~
over 11 years ago
Photo 520442
Temos estudado antes,porcelanas sao bonitos Senior~
over 10 years ago


Carlos Nathansohn

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