DESIGN PRINCIPLES ARE YOUR FRIEND, NOT FOE

Like many naive, buoyant and ambitious year 12 students, I signed up to my VCE Unit 3/4 Visual Communication and Design class like it was my glorious ticket to show off what a creative being I am, in keeping with my Monica-from-Friends-esque over the top competitiveness.

Instead, my teacher hated me.

And the whole class for that matter.

According to him, we weren’t creative or thorough enough to be in his classroom, and he reflected that morose, aimless hate of young adults in the marking of our assignments. Despite handing in an assignment consisting of two WHOLE folios, peppered with flawless watercolours, immaculate calligraphy and at least 6 glue sticks worth of inspiration boards, I was shamelessly branded with a 52%, the lowest mark I’ve ever received, EVER, but it still wasn’t bad considering the average of the class was around 40%.

As a result, his presence in the room was enough to make me audibly seethe. That’s right, audibly.

Sssssssssssssseethe.

As he casually prompted us in the following class, “I think you all need a reminder of the key design principles,” I made a sacred vow to myself I would hate them and my teacher for the rest of my life and consider them irrelevant forever and ever full stop THE END.

And then, you know, I decided to do interior design anyway, so all 17 year old sacred vows were now null and void. So here are the design principles:

UNITY AND HARMONY

You don’t say, “I left my keys back at my 8-separate-rooms-that-are-joined-together-by-walls-and-reside-under-one-roof”. You say house because it is one total object. In order for the house to feel connected, you need to create some sort of flow between each room and the decor in it. Paint is an easy and cheap way to achieve this – the same sort of colour palette in each room makes such a difference.

FOCAL POINT

Ever walk into a room that you’re instantly bored by because your eye can’t fall on a focal point? Most living rooms, well most living rooms in the south of Australia, have a fireplace which means INSTANT FOCAL POINT. It could be a view through an actual window, or a large piece of art, and your eye will become subconsciously satisfied. In contrast, don’t overdo it will several different focal points – you will become overwhelmed.

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The artwork in Rebecca Judd’s “good room” is the focal point…the blues and zebra motif are mirrored in the rug

RHYTHM

Repetition of pattern, shape, colour, texture… it’s all rhythm baby.

BALANCE

In order to further satisfy your increasingly picky eye, the distribution of weight in a room must be even. You don’t want all furniture on one side of the room, or everything low to the ground with cathedral ceilings. If you have relatively low to the floor furniture you need to balance your room by drawing the eye up – artwork hung at eye level or a beautiful pendant light will do nicely.

CONTRAST

When I say unity and harmony, I don’t mean, “Paint your entire house and its contents beige”. When you’re applying rhythm, throw through one or two contrasting elements – eg. a black cushion on a grey couch with a matching lamp shade.

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Black and white cushion with black and white frames

PROPORTION AND SCALE

We’ve discussed this previously. REFRESHER: Buy furniture that fits the space, don’t buy an armchair and a side table for an entire living room and call it a day, and don’t try to stuff a 12 foot couch into a 12.5 foot room. It’s all about different sizes and shapes coming together to make one space.

DETAILS

Even the little things like architrave, skirting boards, door handles; it all adds up. Using brass door handles to match your architecturally Victorian-style house can bring a whole design project together.

So there you go. I hope you hate them less than I did. You could even dedicate two whole folios on them.

A+s for all! I don’t discriminate.

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