Xiaoya Shen


“Twelve Ornaments” are a group of ancient Chinese symbols and designs that are considered highly auspicious. In ancient China, because they signified authority and power, they were employed in the decoration of textile fabrics, and were embroidered on vestments of state, such as the Imperial Robe. They are the patterns that could represent the essence of Chinese traditional national dress.

This thesis project is based on the analysis, research and summarization of this design history as well as the establishment of effective visual design solutions intended to transform the twelve ornaments into modern motif designs. The design will retain the traditional cultural elements of the motifs and help people to learn the meaning represented by such ancient traditional patterns intuitively.

More importantly, it also shows the possibility of using traditional patterns in the modern design fields, by providing inspirations to designers who are interested in Chinese traditional culture and patterns. This furthers and promotes the communication of Chinese and Western culture in the design field.

In this thesis, through research and conceptual experiment, an effective visual design study will be conducted to interpret and develop Chinese ornaments from a traditional Imperial Robe into modern designs. This will also help people to better understand and thus will increase interest in traditional Chinese culture. This project integrates research, informational poster design, a design set of 12 motifs and design of a poster series.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Decoration and ornament--China--Themes, motives--Pictorial works; Repetitive patterns (Decorative arts)--China; China--Kings and rulers--Clothing

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Visual Communication Design (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Design (CAD)


Nancy A. Ciolek

Advisor/Committee Member

Joyce Hertzson

Advisor/Committee Member

Shaun Foster


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes