Monday, January 28, 2013

Making Theory a Reality

For those following, last week  I explained what the Principles of Design were and their importance to a potential space. This week I will talk about the Elements of the Design, which “embodies the Principles of Design and transforms theory into reality.” (Nielson, 55) Without the Elements of Design, it would be impossible to execute the six Principles of Design (scale, proportion, balance, rhythm, emphasis, and harmony).

Space can be positive (filled) or negative (open). Different spaces give us different feelings. Small spaces, for instance, make us feel protected and secure, while large spaces give us the feeling of freedom.

Notice the open space in this room. This is a great example of negative space.
Picture from here.

A triangle, rectangle, and a hexagon are all examples of  Shape. Shape is two dimensional, “often seen as a geometric figure” (Nielson, 64). Form is a three dimensional shape, such as a cube, sphere, or cone.

                “The key to selecting  forms is to balance them against the proportion and  scale of the    architecture for the desired psychological effect or feeling and to select each form to complement     other near by forms.” -Nielson
2 dimensional and 3 dimensional shapes. Picture from here. 

 Mass is the “relative solidity of a form”. For example, lets say you  have a couch and a futon with the same dimensions. The couch is old and sturdy , but very comfortable because of the thick cushioning.  The futon is the same length and width, but has a metal frame, with metal arms and a removable cushion. Even though both pieces have the same dimensions, the couch has greater visual mass. Many designers use the technique of “massing” to balance out larger pieces of furniture or “architectural components,“ such as a window or a fireplace, with another part of the room. This creates unification, or harmony (Nielson, 64).

Notice the use of massing, or grouping, to create balance in this space.
Picture from here.

Lines are important for creating a particular mood in a room. They also create effects such as increased height, width, or impression of movement. Lines can be straight, angular, or curved.

                “The Psychology Effects of  Straight Lines…..
                -Horizontal: weighty, secure, restful, repose
                -Vertical: imposing, lofty, solid, formal, restrained

                The Psychology Effects of Angular Lines…..
                -Diagonal: action, movement, interest, angular stability
                -Zigzag: exciting, lively, rhythmic movement

                The Psychology Effects of Curved Lines…
                -Curved or Circular: soft, humanizing, repetitive tempo, graceful
                -Flowing: gentle movement , growth, linear development
                -Tightly Curved or Busy: playful activity, zest, lively visual stimulation” (Nielson, 66)

Architect Frank Llyod Wright used horizontal lines to make this house appear larger than what it really is.
Picture found here. 

Texture can be smooth (formal) or rough (casual). A smooth surface reads “cold and unwelcoming”, and a rough surface reads as “harsh and irritating”. Pattern can be read as “visual” texture.

                “A balance and variety of texture is necessary within a unified theme in order to achieve harmony.” (Nielson, 67)

This sample of wood grain is an example of a pattern that can also be view as visual texture or actual texture.
Picture from here.

Light is probably the most important elements of design because it affects all the other elements. It can affect the appearance of a space, making it look larger or smaller. It can affect the form or shape of furnishings in a room. It can alter the way we read patterns and texture, as well as the identity of  a color of the wall. Light can be natural (from the sun) or artificial (from a lamp).
This room uses the natural light from the sun.
Picture from here.

Color is probably the most emotional and personal element of design. Colors, or hues, give us different emotions. Warm colors (reds, oranges, and yellow) are stimulating. They read as friendly, cozy, and inviting, while cool colors (blues, greens, and violets) are calming and give us the feeling of restraint, dignity, and formality. The value of a hue refers to it’s lightness or darkness. The color pink is just a lighter version of red, and burgundy is a darker version of red. Lighter colors open up a space, while darker colors make a space feel smaller.
This hot pink kitchen is bright, bubbly, and fun. This space looks very welcoming and exciting all because of the paint choice. Picture from here.

Now that we got through the basic language of design, we can get rolling into the good stuff.  I can talk about the emphasis of a vase full of roses on a dining room table or Frank Llyod Wright’s use of  horizontal lines to make a space appear larger and know that you will understand what I am talking about.  There is a lot to take in consideration when creating a space for someone. I hope you have realized that after learning the principles and elements of design. Until next time folks! Happy Designing!

Work Cited

Nielsen, Karla, and David Taylor. Interiors: An Introduction. 5th ed. New York: Mc-Graw Hill, 2011. 55-67. Print.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Starting with the Basics

Every designer uses the principles and elements of design to create a piece of work.

         “The Principles of Design are the abstract concepts that constitute the theory, bylaws, or governing ideas that determine the success of a design. Each element in a design can be evaluated according to these principles.” -Nielson

There are six principles of design. The first principle is scale. Scale refers to the size of an object. Objects, or furnishings, should be in relation to one another. When furnishings are out of scale to other furnishings in an area, the space lacks harmony. It’s pretty common sense. Large objects belong in large spaces, and small objects belong in small spaces. This rule, however, can be broken to create excitement or drama (Nielson, 54). Large furnishings in a small space will make the space feel smaller, and small furnishings in a larger area will make the area feel more spacious.

      This large man in this small car demonstrates poor scale. (Picture from

The second principle of design is proportion. Proportion is closely related to scale, dealing with shapes, forms, and their dimensions. An example of proportion would be the relationship between a tabletop and its legs. There has to be a “sense of rightness” and visual pleasure from looking at the chair. Many designers use the “golden mean” to achieve this feeling. The golden mean is a visual line dividing an object into two equal, but harmonious parts. Between one half and one third would be considered “visual pleasing” (Nielson, 55).

The next principle is balance, which is the arrangement of objects physically or visually to reach a state of equilibrium. Balance of a space is important because the need of balance in our lives is a natural human need. There are three different types of balance. Symmetrical balance creates a mirror image by placing identical objects on both sides of the focal point. A great example of symmetrical balance would be a butterfly. Asymmetrical balance can be achieved by placing objects that are not alike at various distances from the focal point. To achieve a state of equilibrium based on the circle would be the use of radical balance (Neilson, 56).     

Example of radical balance (picture from

Rhythm is another principle of design, referring to the flow of elements. The rhythm of a design can be compared to the rhythm in a song. The “beat”, or rhythm, carries the viewer’s eye along a path at a certain pace that is determined by the elements that illustrate it. 

Demonstrates gradation or progression rhythm (picture from

The principle emphasis is used to create a point of interest. Designers use various tricks to draw attention to a particular area, giving it greater emphasis. You can make anything in a room your focal point. Popular areas of focus include a beautiful fireplace, a magnificent piece of art work, or even a piece of furniture. Directing lines to your focal point, using more dramatic colors at the area of your focal point, and facing furniture toward your focal point, are all ways to emphasis an object in your space (Nielson, 59).

Demonstrates emphasis through the use of color (picture from

The last principle that ties all the other principles together is harmony. “Harmony is the combination of design elements, architecture, and furnishings into a pleasing or orderly whole.” (Nielson, 60). Each element and object within the space should all come together as one. Color schemes, furnishings, fabrics, materials, and accessories selected should all be cohesive with each other. They should all have a similar feeling of “consistency in character” (Nielson, 60). It’s always nice to spark a little interest or diversity by the lack of sameness. Variety is seen through the selection of different colors, textures, furniture, and contrast of materials, but without some order, variety can be confusing and ineffective (Nielson, 60).

Demonstrates harmony within a space (picture from

Work Cited

Nielsen, Karla, and David Taylor. Interiors: An Introduction. 5th ed. New York: Mc-Graw Hill, 2011. 54-60. Print.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Through a Designer's Eyes...

Welcome to the beautiful world of Interior Design through my eyes. I am a college student who is intrigued by everything beautiful. Colors, shapes, patterns, positive and negative space, etc. From the simple principles and elements of design, to the technical work of an architect, I want to learn it all. I am easily stimulated visually and when I see a space that is bold and creative, it takes my breath away. I’ve always had a passion for art. In high school, I was in a program that was focused on visual arts. Years have gone by and that passion still exists.  At one point in my life, I wanted to be a fashion designer. Then it moved into the direction of being a personal stylist. After that, I wanted to be a make-up artist for the stars. And now I’m here. Although I would watch the shows on HGTV, I never really thought about going in that direction with my career. Then I took a few classes in the fall of last year and fell in love with Interior Design. Being able to put my thoughts into reality by creating spaces for others seems like it would be rewarding. The process of creating a space is tedious, but the product is worth the effort.

Many people think Interior Design is just remodeling homes, but it’s much more than that. It’s about making changes in peoples’ lives by giving them a new fabulous space that they can be proud to come home to.  I believe that a design can affect a person’s mood. Coming home to your “dream home” after a long stressful day at work I think would lift anyone’s spirit. Or waking up in the morning to your “dream home” would start anyone’s day off right.  I‘d  love to be an Interior designer because I’d have the ability to change lives.

Design is not only applied to homes, but everywhere. There is residential design as well on commercial design. Office buildings, schools, shopping malls, hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, parks, etc., all are examples of places that have to be thought up and put onto paper first. Cars, RVs, buses, computers, cell phones, even the writing utensils we use every day, were designed before being made into that final product that we use today. Last semester I went to a chair manufacturing company’s warehouse and I was amazed by how much thought and work it takes to put together a chair. We never think about these things when we sit in a chair, or use a pencil.

In my blog post, I will discuss the art of Interior Design from the inside out. I will talk about topics such as elements and principles of design, the process of creating a space, top designers and architects in the field, what it takes to be an Interior Designer, and much more. I hope I can share my love of design with my audience and learn much more about Interior Design along the way. Happy blogging!