to college design textbook “Inside Today’s Home” by LuAnn Nissen, the elements
of design are space, form, line, texture, light and color while the principles
of design are balance (symmetrical, asymmetrical and radial), rhythm
(repetition, progression, transition and contrast), emphasis, scale/proportion
and harmony (unity and variety). These terms provide designers with a
vocabulary for various elements of design, as well as an explanation as to how
and why the elements work together.
last post covered the elements. This one explains how the
principles work. If the elements are the tools or “raw ingredients” of interior
design, the principles are the recipe. Balance, rhythm, harmony…in design these
terms explain how various visual components relate to one another and why we
find them so appealing!
(symmetrical, asymmetrical and radial) refers to the equal distribution of
weight, size or bulk of an object or space on an axis in an aesthetically
pleasing composition. Symmetrical balance, also none as formal or passive
balance, happens when one side of something is the exact same as the other
half: a mirror image. This type of
balance can be seen in a pair of scones flanking a painting above a fireplace;
two candlesticks flanking a centerpiece on a dining room table; or two exterior
light fixtures flanking a front door. It is helpful to use this type of balance
when attempting to place importance on an object, such as the painting or the
balance, also referred to informal or active balance, is differing objects
arranged along an axis, equal distance apart but of equal weight or bulk. It is
still balanced but with items or components that are different from one another.
It’s used in casual design and is generally more complex than symmetrical
balance. Rather than having identical objects on an axis, this type of balance
relies on mismatched items with equal scale or perceived weight. Asymmetrical
balance can be seen in arrangements of framed prints or photography on a wall;
and in the floor plans of a ranch style residence.
balance is identical or differing objects placed in a circular fashion. It can
be seen in modern residential spaces, museums and commercial buildings. Radial
balance is chairs around a table in the middle of a room; a crystal chandelier;
or the structure of a circular rotunda. It directs your attention to the center
of the space or object. If done right, a
space with any of these types of balance will calm you while spaces without
balance can make you feel unexplainably uncomfortable.
(repetition, progression, transition, contrast) is a principle that suggests
movement so it often refers to the transition of patterns (as in fabric and
wallpaper) and the flow of rooms in the confines of one home.
is the simplest way to create rhythm and is done by repeating any of the
elements above (line, color, pattern, etc.) in a repetitive, consistent way.
is creating rhythm through gradual yet regular changes of size or color.
in rhythm “gently” leads the eye in a continuous, uninterrupted way from one
area to another.
is a type of rhythm in which shapes, styles or colors are placed in purposeful
opposition of one another to create excitement and visual interest.
is used as a way to call attention to a preferred focal point or as a way to
“anchor” a space. Color and scale are two great ways to create emphasis.
refers to the proportions between two or more objects. The scale of our homes
and furnishings are particularly important for instance, the seat of a chair and
the counters in a kitchen or bathroom must be within the right height to be
(variety and unity) is created by the repletion of design elements like color,
texture and shape. Unity combines elements to make a balanced interior.
Tomorrow we will explore ways to make a home more comfy and how to combine styles and eras.
Hope you can make it!
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