DECOR HOW-TO: DESIGN PRINCIPLES AND ELEMENTS PART ONE

As noted by Mr John Jacob Zwiegelaar, designers and decorators are on an eternal quest for balance.  To achieve any successful space on your own steam, it’s helpful to remember a basic set of rules, that will help guide you in your creation of something that is ultimately spectacular.
PRINCIPLES:
There are five principles that are employed by designers in their envisioning of a concept:
Scale and Proportion
Balance
Emphasis
Rhythm
Harmony
SCALE
“Scale is the relationship between the absolute size and character of an object or space compared to other objects and spaces.  To be completely sensitive to good proportions, one must be familiar with the underlying significance of scale.”

Symmetrical

PROPORTION

“Proportion is the pleasing relationship between all parts of a design in relation to each other and the whole.  Every time two or more objects are placed together, it forms part of a whole, and proportions are established, whether they are good or bad.  An entire room must be visualised in order to evaluate the principles correctly.  Each object in the room is dependent upon every other object to make a pleasing, well-balanced whole.”

BALANCE
“The principle of balance in decorating appeals to our sense of equilibrium.  Balance should give the feeling of stability, due to the illusion of equal weight on either side of a central focal point.  There are four types of balance – symmetrical, asymmetrical, radial and graduated.”
Asymmetrical
Radial
Graduated
 EMPHASIS
“Every room needs some note of interest (focal point) that catches the eye or arrests the attention; otherwise the room would be monotonous and very uninteresting.  This quality may be referred to as the centre of interest, point of emphasis, focal point or dominant area.
It involves the principle of design that leads the eye first to the most important part of the room and then to other areas in order of their interest.  There could be several areas of interest in a room, but one will be more dominant than the others and will hold one’s attention for longer (…) otherwise there would be competing areas of interest, which would definitely lead to confusion and uneasiness.”

Focal Point
 RHYTHM
“Rhythm is a sense of order, a quality of gracefulness and feeling of easy movement.  It is continuity, repetition or organised, related movement, or the sense of leading the eye easily from one part of the room to another in a flowing manner.  Rhythm is extremely important in achieving unity because it makes the eye sweep over the whole design before resting on a particular point.
Rhythm is often achieved through repetition: “Repeating lines, colours and shapes can achieve a feeling of rhythm.”

Colour Repitition

 HARMONY

“If all the principles of proportion, balance, emphasis and rhythm are applied so that there is a sense of beauty in the design, the resulting attribute will be of harmony and unity.

It is a concluding goal that we strive for when we select and arrange the various elements to form an orderly blend of lines, colour, texture and patterns for a particualr purpose.  Of one that has failed to apply one of the principles of design, then the end result will lack harmony.”

Well there you have it – go forth and create, and watch this space for Part Two.

All the above information was thanks to the Applied Theory class at The Design School South Africa.  Check out their website, as well as their Twitter and Facebook pages for more information on their degrees, including a BA in Interior Design, and a part time, short course covering Interior Decorating.
- Lee-Anne
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