Ogee Definition and DesignBrittany Wittman McLaughlin
A curve is a line or outline that gradually deviates from being straight for some or all of its length. This sounds like a meandering path, being gradual in its transition. The Ogee has double continuous S-shaped voluptuous curves. As a pattern, it has an onion shape. The flow and pattern evoke a modern feel while harkening back to ancient textile history.
This Ogee pattern has been seen illustrated all around the world and over the course of many centuries. It is both classic and crosses cultures from the east to the west.
Its history can be traced all the way to ancient Persia and the Tomb of Cyrus the Great (559–529 BC). The heart of ancient Persia is in what is now southwest Iran, in the region called the Fars. In the second half of the 6th century B.C.E., the Persians (also called the Achaemenids) created an enormous empire reaching from the Indus Valley to Northern Greece and from Central Asia to Egypt. It is no wonder this pattern is seen in European countries as the Silk Road traveled routes that connected East Asia and Southeast Asia with South Asia, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa, and Southern Europe.
In more recent history, the ogee shape has a deeply rooted history and was heavily used in the Gothic style of the 14th and 15th centuries, especially in England. In architecture, it is called an ogee arch composed of two ogees, mirrored left to right and meeting at an apex. Ogee arches also became very popular in Venice and were widely used in Venetian Gothic architecture. Sometimes you will see ogee arches called Venetian arches. They’re also sometimes referred to as a cyma versa, which is Latin for ‘molding returned.’
Although it is a common characteristic of European architecture, we can see its roots are from the ancient Middle East. The ogee pattern continues to decorate our interiors in today’s modern life.