Why humans like round shapes and curved lines

For this week’s pattern blog, I want to focus on round shapes and curved lines as I use them a lot in my designs. There is something satisfying about them, but why do we like them?

Eye movement tracking studies on babies have shown they have a preference for curved lines and studies in adults have confirmed this human bias. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain revealed that when participants saw angular shapes, the amygdala was more activated. Since the amygdala is the part of the brain responsible for processing fear, anxiety and aggressiveness, it was concluded that people found round shapes more relaxing because they didn’t stimulate the same response. (Source: https://www.sciencefocus.com/science/why-do-we-find-circles-so-beautiful/)

So how is this relevant to surface pattern design? One of my main influences is the Art Nouveau style, which is mainly comprised of flowing curved lines and round shapes. I didn’t realise until now there was a scientific explanation behind its appeal. It is certainly inspiring me to try to create a pattern which is as relaxing as possible!

Until next time my creative crew,


Below are some examples from Designing from Plant Forms by John W. Wadsworth.