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