By Malini Aikat
Louis Vuitton would have liked to trademark the quatrefoil. Jeweler, David Yurman, wanted to trademark the word. Van Cleef and Arpels claims copyright over the shape. What’s with the quatrefoil? What is quatrefoil?
A simple leaf shape composed of four leaflets has the world tied up in knots. First, step outside, walk about, go for a short drive and quatrefoils will jump out at you. On railings, on windows, on church spires, on gables. On pendants nestled in the hollow of stylish hipster throats. On Louis Vuitton bags. Everywhere. So, why so popular? It’s a design so simple so as to be almost stupid. Except it’s not. Carving quatrefoil, getting the proportions just so and the curves perfectly fluid took immense skill. And it’s undeniably pretty. Arresting even. A perfect example of the beauty of simplicity. So, far from signifying ordinariness, the quatrefoil, au contraire, immediately signals fanciness.
It is absurd for anyone to claim rights over the shape for its origins are ancient. Islamic perhaps. We’re not entirely sure except it does have a distinct Middle Eastern look about it and it is abundant in that part of the world – on windows, carpets, grilles. The four sides probably point to the four directions and have some mystical significance. The quatrefoil is evident in Mayan monuments which date back to around 850 BC. That’s a lot of BC. And with that kind of historical depth and breadth, makes for a fascinating story. Listen to The Fancy Shape by Roman Mars and follow the thrilling history of the quatrefoil. By the way, it’s said: kat-ruh-foil.