Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We-Design-Day - Practical Theory!

Last week, we looked at design composition and the elements of design. The elements are generally applied using the principles of design – this week’s topic.
There are eight principles. We’ll look at each one closely as they can be invaluable resources when planning your space. I’m going to list them ‘laundry’ style and then we’ll work through them individually.

    I. Balance
    II. Rhythm
    VII. Harmony


    a.In a design setting, it refers to the visual balance. It relates to the perception of the weight of an object (or objects) in architecture and interiors. Balance can also be more than just physical arrangement. Balance can also mean the balance of the elements of design: balanced texture, line, colour or shape.

    b.There are three basic types of balance generally used.

    i.Symmetrical or bilateral

    1.Described as being equal and in proportion to one another. Most commonly used as it is predominant in our natural environment. We have two arms, two legs, two eyes – and generally, all are similar in size and location (on the body). Often mirror images.

    2.In Fig.1, the vases are symmetrically balanced (one on each end of the table, similar distance from the edge and each other).


    1.Described as being ‘not symmetrical’ – meaning not equal in size or proportion but the pieces work to stabilize one another. Although some things in nature are asymmetrical (Fiddler crab has one claw bigger than the other), our tendency is towards symmetry. Being ‘left’ or ‘right’ handed is also asymmetrical as it’s easier for the brain to ‘train’ one hand rather than both.

    Other hints for understanding and employing Asymmetrical balance:
    Brightly coloured objects can visually balance a dull colour.
    Large objects can be balanced by a grouping of smaller objects
    Generally considered “informal”

    2.Varying the height and arrangement creates visual interest and definition.

    I always find asymmetrical arrangements difficult because they don’t seem natural and can often look contrived and planned.


    1.Most similar to symmetrical balance but has a central point or core from which the elements extend outward.


    a.Think of rhythm – what has rhythm? A heart beat, music, the person in the next cube over tapping his pencil. What do they all have in common?


    1.Repetitive use of materials, form texture or colour.

    ii.Regular Intervals

    1.Alternating the elements of design (use of curves against stripes)

    iii.Organized Movement

    1.Progression of movement can draw the eye in a directional sequence – light to dark (colours) or sizing objects small to large.


    a.Emphasis in a design context gives variety and uniqueness to an interior by creating focal points or centres of interest. It can be obtained through dominant or subordinate use of forms, colours, textures and lines.

    i.Dominant Forms

    1.Have the greatest impact

    ii.Subordinate Forms

    1.Secondary and should coordinate or contrast with the dominant form

    b.When selecting the focal point, it’s important to select it carefully and balance it with the other elements.

I’m going to end this week with that. The principles are an important area and deserve time to digest and comprehend the material. Next week, we’re going to look at Proportion and Scale – two principles that often get neglected when planning a space.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. Thanks for stopping by and see you for next week’s We-Design-Day!

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