Ogee Definition and DesignBrittany Wittman McLaughlin
An ogee is a distinctive pattern with two continuous S-shaped curves narrowing and widening. These two curves form a perfect oval before repeating out gracefully. Known for their pleasing flow and rhythm, this layout is extremely versatile as a design element. In fact, designers from cultures all around the globe have been using it in patterns. They can be modern and sleek when used in apparel, large-scale and elaborate in home furnishing fabrics, or decorative and ornate on architectural molding.
The origins of the ogee can be traced to the Tomb of Cyrus the Great in ancient Persia (559–529 BC), now present day Iran, in the region known as the Fars. As merchants and travelers began traveling the Silk Road, the design traveled with them on the many textiles they traded, appearing across the Middle East, down into Africa, and eventually into Europe.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, especially in England, it was used often in Gothic architecture. In Venice, in particular, it was popular to mirror two ogees and join them at an apex to form an ogee arch.
In textiles, the ogee was used widely throughout the 16th century in Turkish, Persian and Italian brocades. The shape creates a natural frame and lends itself to incorporating a motif or medallion inside. Though appearing simple, it easily adapts to a wide variety of different styles and scales.
As with so many classic motifs or layouts, the ogee continues to be a classic through to the present day. Textile designers never seem to grow tired of playing with the signature gentle curves. Fashion designers use these designs on garments in their collections and interior designers incorporate it into their spaces constantly, whether on floors, walls, drapery, or furniture.