Patterns: Damask (not brocade)

Pronunciation: ˈda-məsk

Usage: mistakenly referred to as “Brocade

History: Byzantium, Damascus, Islamic Spain

Pattern type: Naturalistic

Let us not get confuddleing-fack-waggeled between Brocade and Damask, because the overall styling is the same in both and the differences are subtle.

Brocade is a weaving technique to produce the pattern. It is usually more ornate, rich in colour much like an oriental print, and it has a higher depth fabric pile. Brocade can be floral, twig, and leaf combinations and is an alternating repeat. Here lyes the misconception that brocade is damask, and essentially that damask is brocade because they kind of look the same, but... they're not the same. The image to the left is a good, modern, example of brocade.

For some reason or other, and I'm not entirely clear why or how, brocade ended up on wedding gowns and then crossed over into interior design as damask for a statement look of luxury and the ultimate, highly tailored, feminine style. Although both fabrics are made on a Jacquard loom, Damask is a naturalistic pattern of a leaf motif. It is simply two-tone, meaning that one colour is in the background and one colour is the overall patterning, nothing more. In order to have a true damask, there are a couple of characteristics that identify the pattern. Firstly, it is most recognizable by the alternating repeat. These repeats can be filled with further damasking-ness and create a sort of moroccan pattern in the negative space. The image to the right is an excellent rendition of a good damask.

Designers note: If you care calling brocade a damask, or the other way around, you are very very wrong and will now be severely punished for not knowing the difference. Do you know know hard it is to find a freaking brocade example because ya'll have called it damask instead? Sheesh.

Damask is currently being used in design a couple of ways:

1. Visual impact and a backdrop to the overall style and motif of the space

2. Focused and stylized using high-contrast colours. Kind of some visual queing going on here b/c don't you just want to sit in the blue chair?

3. Over-stated & graphic representations such as a furniture piece, accessory, or a wall graphic - and I'm only assuming that this is pretty or relaxing to some people b/c it's way over-the-top patterning for me.

As usual, I have a plethora of Brocade-ness and Damasking things tagged in Pinterest for your viewing pleasures.