The Fad of Flourishes – Naff or Not?

Honestly, it feels like flourishes are everywhere. As someone who has doodled throughout her life, during classes at high school and university and later whiling away time in meetings in “proper adult life”, I feel a little sold out. But to tell the truth I also feel a little vindicated. I remember I first started seeing those sneaky little vines wending their way through soft furnishings, involved in patterns reminiscent of Florence Broadhurst but also in damasks boldly ripped off from eras gone past. It seemed like the bland white plastic patinas of the iPod age were dead, and I rejoiced.

And then… a designer in all of his or her wisdom decided to combine the two. Now, I see glossy veneers paired with these beautiful natural and organic flourishes. What’s going on?! I’m currently struggling with this at the moment.

Nick Ainley is an incredible graphic artist, but I just don’t dig on the plastic surfaces fighting against the flourishes. In his favour, he does have a knack for perspective and three dimensionality. A lot of designers just wack in a few flourishes and chalk up another crowd pleaser. Nick obviously thinks about how each element fits in.

I find these to be faddish and somewhat poorly executed, in-so-far as uniting the flourish with the subject matter. I don’t mind juxtaposition, but some of these feel awkward and very flat.

It’s not all bad though! Alberto Seveso is amazing, his current schtick is a much more left field use of flourishes. They aren’t even flourishes he’s downloaded from! They’ve all been lovingly created by himself – it’s plain to see – and form a new skin over the anatomy of high fashion models. I love it! I even love how his doodles aren’t even flowery, they’re soft and like chewing gum… something that really appeals to me.

The handmade flourish aesthetic obviously resonates strongly with me, and in order to find my own style, I brought doodles in to Illustrator from my notebooks and put them in sets of flourishes or combined them into seamless patterns. I don’t think fads should be avoided entirely, but in order to avoid the naff I like to put a credible and strongly voiced spin on it!


  1. haha I definitely agree with some of these. Though flourishes have always been in … i remember people used to grab those twirls from scriptina and use them in their layouts.

    Swirlies are just naturally eye-pleasing! Plus they add interest and texture :- p Its no wonder some people go overboard (me being a guilty one xD)

Comments are closed.