Have you ever heard an interior designer talk and wonder what they are talking about. I know we have those thoughts about our accountants, doctors and lawyers but what about our designers. Do our clients just smile and nod theirs heads in agreement because they are afraid to ask what we are talking about? So I have been thinking this morning that there are some terms that I use on a regular basis that maybe not everyone is familiar with or how it applies to interior design.
The first word that I use regularly is balance and it is usually used with the word scale. These seems like normal everyday words but how do they apply to interior design? The definition of balance that applies to design is: a counterbalancing weight, force, or influence. So when we talk about making sure that a room is balanced we are talking about the weight and scale of the furnishings along with positioning to make one feel comfortable in the space. If a room is out of balance then the people inside the room will feel uneasy and possibly anxious. Now above I used the term weight, that does not actually mean that we are going by the amount a piece of furniture weighs but on the impact that it has. A piece of furniture can be small in size but add a lot of weight to the room based on the color, fabric or material that it is made from. And this is where scale comes into play. When we are talking about scale we are talking about the size and impact that a piece of furniture, artwork or architectural detail has on a space. So for instance if we have two large wing back chairs on one side of the room we need to balance the space with another piece of the same weight and scale. This does not mean that we need two more large wing backs, just that whatever furniture is opposite them needs to be larger in size, have a large pattern, or have a darker fabric. A small hand carved rocker would not work in this case.
The next term that I use a great deal is juxtaposition. The definition of juxtaposition is: the act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side. When it is used with interior design it usually has a connotation of mixing two seemingly opposite pieces together. For instance, I like the juxtaposition of a contemporary room with a traditional area rug. They are being placed together and would not be the initial thought of things to put together.
Another necessary term in interior design is flow. This word is used to describe the feeling a space has but also the way in which one moves through the space. We always want the space to flow. Meaning that it works well with the spaces around it. Such as bringing the outdoors in, or the adjoining rooms, or even the architecture. When a good interior designer designs they need to make sure that the flow is in balance with the structure and the enviroment. When we use the term flow to discuss how one moves around the space we are talking about traffic patterns. A well designed space has to make sense how you move in the space. We want people to fell welcomed into the space not put off by it. If the walls or furnishings are placed in the correct manner then the occupants of the space will feel comfortable, however if they are not placed properly not only will it create a bad feeling to the space but also it will lack in function. Form and function must coexist they are not mutually exclusive.
So now you know what we are talking about when you hear us jabbering about balance, weight, scale, juxtaposition, and flow. These are the basis for good design, although there are other terms if you know the meanings and usages of these you will be able to hold your own with any designer.