Designer Picks : Tegan’s Back to Basics


Back To Basics

As an interior designer it is our job to be aware of how ones physical surroundings affect the way people feel in the space they inhabit. I find that it is often beneficial to go back to the basics and focus on the seven “Elements of Design”. These are; space, line, form, shape, texture, time and colour and light. The elements can be thought of as tools which we use to create desired visual and psychological effects.

As Katelyn and I hauled and pushed all the furniture around in the showroom this week in order to create a fresh new look to our surroundings, I became acutely aware of how playing with form and shape can instantly change the way a space feels. A quick definition of these two elements is in order so that I may demonstrate the incredible impact form and shape has on our perception of space.

Form may be thought of as three dimensional mass which displays volume. Shape, on the other hand, is the outline or the identifiable contours of an object. Basic shapes are circles, rectangles, squares and triangles. In design we can express these shapes as curvilinear, rectilinear and angular. So, with these very simple definitions in mind let us consider how form and shape effect our perceptions of the space we are in.

Form, being a mass, displays implied or apparent weight. So how do we apply this to design? Here are a few examples. A box painted flat black will seem to most people to weigh more than a clear plastic box, so, by using dark furniture one can create a heaviness or grounding feeling in a room. A dark upholstered chair next to a white wall will have more apparent weight and dominance. This week, when I painted all the walls in the lower part of our showroom white, I was struck by how the furniture that sat next to the new white wall all of a sudden shouted, “Look at me!”. The furniture seemed bigger and more present in the room. The visual effect was dramatic.

Now let us briefly consider shape and some of the ways it can affect the way we perceive our space. When we use like shapes in a room we create a feeling of unity and harmony. For example, grouping rectangular shaped furniture with similarly shaped objects like art, rugs, pillows and knickknacks a room will seem harmonious due to the unifying quality of similarity. If we then introduce a different shape, say a circular mirror or table, our eye will be drawn to the different shape and it will become the focal point.
The orientation of shape can also elicit a particular emotional response. Let us consider a rectilinear shape. Tall, rectilinear shapes usually convey a feeling of clarity, stability and formality. The most dramatic example of this effect I can think of is the use of rectilinear shape in gothic style churches. However, if the longer side of a rectangular shape is horizontal, it can have the opposite effect creating an environment that feels restful and casual. An example of this would be the use of a great long sectional sofa in a room. Amazing that the same shape can create such opposite feelings.

So, for me, this past week was not only a great workout with all the moving of furniture and painting in the showroom, but it was also a great reminder of how important the basics of the “Elements of Design” are for creating an environment we find pleasing to be in. Please feel free to come by our showroom anytime to ask Katelyn or myself for any other design tips we can offer.

Until next time, happy decorating!


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