A simple diamond shaped pattern may not seem unusual. It is so familiar we instantly recognize it. We take it for granted. The first time I paid attention to this pattern was at our first stop on a much anticipated family trip to NYC when I was 15, Radio City Music Hall. Built in 1932, the building is a shining example of Art Deco architecture- sleek, streamlined, machine-like, modern.
In the lower level lobby, we were shown circular seating which prevented people from facing each other and therefore keeping quiet. The guide pointed out the diamond shaped pattern in the carpet. She said at the time, it was believed the pattern would make people feel a little sleepy, which calmed them from a hectic commute on the subway and prepared them to settle down for a show. Carefully designed spaces influencing behavior piqued my interest in architecture. The idea that a pattern could make a person feel sleepy, or feel anything, was fascinating.
I started to notice the diamond pattern everywhere I went.
The facade of the Doge’s Palace in St. Marks Square.
The roof of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.
The columns of Fatepur Sikri.
In my mind it will forever be associated with Art Deco, but clearly the diamond pattern has been used by artists for a long time. But how long? Where did it come from? Who was the first to create it? I tried to find its origin, the story, and eventually gave up.