her·ring·bone (hrng-bn) n.
1. a. A pattern consisting of rows of short, slanted parallel lines with the direction of the slant alternating row by row and used in masonry, parquetry, embroidery, and weaving.
b. A twilled fabric woven in this pattern.
Most of us probably think about herringbone today as a print that we use primarily in textiles, and particularly in suits or outerwear. But this pattern goes back all the way to the BCs with the Egyptians and especially Romans using it for the basis of their road system which modernized the way we use transportation both then and now. In fashion herringbone is actually a specific stitch (usually in wool) made to create patterns often in black and white.
Herringbone, as defined above, is a design in which a chevron has been split where the point converges in the right angle of the rectangle that extends down. Beneath the point, another narrow rectangle reaches down forming the zigzag pattern. The name is quite literal as it derives from the skeletal design of a herring.
Herringbone has a wonderful graphic quality that lends itself to many types of design. From far away, the colors can blend on the eye (depending how large the print is) but as you get closer the grain becomes more visible creating an interactive relationship with the viewer and object. Herringbone is also more complex that say an arrow or a chevron because it has been split adding a multilayered blend of geometry.
We have multiple herringbone patterns at Oxford Exchange and enjoy using them in different interiors. How do you use herringbone?