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Published on June 9, 2016
The Quatrefoil: Timeless Design (and GOOD LUCK!)
The quatrefoil has stood the test of time. This beloved shape has long stood for good luck. At Gabby, we like it for it’s simple geometric shape and transitional styling. We find it so appealing that it’s part of our logo (formed by 4 Gs). Timeless and transitional, this symbol makes a big impact in today’s designs—just as it has for centuries.
A quatrefoil forms the outline of four overlapping circles of the same size. The barbed quatrefoil (far right) is a quatrefoil pierced at the angles by the points of a square.
Symbolism: What Does The Quatrefoil Symbol Mean?
As we mentioned, the quatrefoil is the ancient symbol for good luck. The word is derived from Latin roots and means four leaves. (Think four-leaf clover!) Quattuour means four, and folium mean leaf. Put them together and you have…. Quatrefoil!
In the Christian faith, the leaves represent the four evangelists of the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
In Native American culture, the four leaves of the quatrefoil symbolize the four ends of the earth (much like the points on a compass): North, South, East, and West. (Though we recognize this symbol as European in origin, archeologists can cite examples from ancient Mesoamerica.)
Other cultures look to the quatrefoil for its symmetry. Easily divided into equal portions or other shapes, it also stands for harmony.
Historically in architecture, the quatrefoil garnered great attention for hundreds of years, specifically during the Gothic and Renaissance eras (12th-17th centuries). During this time, the symbol was mostly used as tracery or windows in Gothic architecture. Here, the spire of Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen, Scotland exhibits a Gothic arch with quatrefoil window.
Constructed in 432-434, the San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains) is a Roman Catholic church in Rome, Italy. The ancient structure is best known for being the home of Michelangelo’s statue of Moses.
Still evident in modern architecture, a quatrefoil window adds a striking focal point to this Mission revival home in Palo Alto, California. www.houzz.com
This kitchen cabinet with a quatrefoil relief originally graced the inside of a church. (A basin in the top once held holy water.) The addition of a concrete countertop and turned it into a kitchen island. Design by Magnolia Homes, Waco, Texas.
The Gabby showroom in Atlanta showcases a bold use of the quatrefoil. Notice the barbed quatrefoil mirrors (Maggie Wall Mirror) and smaller quatrefoil cutout on the Zinnia Dining Table. Inspired by Baroque cathedrals of the 17th century, the Maggie Wall Mirror showcases an antiqued mirror and silver and white finish on the wood frame.
Other products featuring the quatrefoil shape include wallpaper, accessories, floor tiles, and fabrics. These three wallpapers by Brewster Home Fashions show just how very different the pattern of the quatrefoil can be when applied to a greater design such as wall covering or fabric.
Whether classic, fanciful, or modern, the quatrefoil is just as relevant and prevalent in today’s designs as it was with the ancients. At Gabby, we use this beloved motif in our lighting, furniture, and more. Take a look at some of our favorite products featuring the quatrefoil.
Quatrefoils In Lighting
Combining a classic shape with an antique style finish, the Atlas Chandelier is an antique silver transitional chandelier that offers an innovative take on a popular neo-gothic motif.
The Finch Pendant has a transitional style metal ring surrounding a cream linen drum shade with adjustable pole for elegant contrast on 2 planes. This versatile piece looks at home over a cocktail table, nook, counter or kitchen island. Try hanging two (or three) over a larger island.
The Lewis Chandelier brings an elegant touch to any room with its interlocking quatrefoil shapes finished in Chipped Gold. Arms extend from the center to support four chandelier bulbs, and a decorative ball hangs from its center adding character to the beautiful chandelier.
The Charlotte Transitional Lamp combine a classic shape with an antique-gold finish. The transitional lamp is made of iron and features an acrylic base. Slim gold bands circling the shade add an extra touch of elegance.
Quatrefoil Inspired Furniture
A classic chest of wooden drawers gets a makeover. The Pandora Chest features a clean, white finish and metal geometric pattern across the drawer fronts add a modern twist to this vintage-style piece.
Check out the shape of the top of the Edwin Coffee Table. We took some of our favorite materials, recycled pine and iron, and created an industrial-style, reclaimed wood, transitional coffee table. Its quatrefoil shape is the perfect eclectic centerpiece for any living room.
Quatrefoils detail this larger drum shaped round Mason Side Table finished in vintage gold metal. A beveled white lacquered rim sits under clear glass giving the gold and white end table drama.
Alone, the Mason Side Table is a standout. In a room setting, it’s one of those little details that make a big difference in layering and visual interest.
As you travel about over the coming weeks and months, look around you. How many quatrefoils can you spot? We bet there will be more than you realized before! No matter how you use this ancient symbol, we wish you lots of GOOD LUCK!