For designers, space is an essential material to work with while designing interior spaces. Through this, we move, see forms, hear sounds, feel gentle breezes and smell fragrances. So, it becomes crucial to ensure that this space is designed properly— bringing in the elements of interior design. These aspects of design are the building blocks of all compositions. The designer uses these to control the message being delivered to the audience. The essential elements of interior design are line, form, light, colour, pattern, and texture.
Line, one of the essential elements of design, defines the form or shape of a two-dimensional surface. Lines can be of various types, like thick or thin, smooth or rough. In interior design elements, we focus on the lines created by the furnishings and architecture of the room. It is responsible for harmony and contrast in interior design. It can also be used to guide the user’s eyes throughout a room. It can also convey strength, serenity, or action. While it is impossible to isolate this element, the lines can hugely affect the overall look and feel of the space. The eye follows the lines present and notices how those lines interact.
Different types of lines have varying effects. For example, horizontal lines give a relaxed impression, while vertical lines give a more energetic impression. However, only horizontal and vertical lines without diagonal or curved lines can have a masculine aesthetic. Diagonal lines are dynamic, while curved lines are soft and unstructured. Lines have to be planned out properly since too many diagonal lines can confuse a person, while too many curved lines can impart aimlessness.
Horizontal lines can be found in furniture like tables, chairs, and bookshelves. They play a crucial role in balancing the vertical lines in the windows, doorways, and columns. Vertical lines tend to add to the illusion of height in the space. Meanwhile, diagonal lines create drama and movement with the use of staircases or modern fabric patterns. On the other hand, curved lines can be found in furniture, windows, and arches.
Architectural form is the three-dimensional shape created by various lines. Every piece of furniture and decoration has a form that would compliment the space. For example, adding free-form sculptures to a bookshelf can make it more eye-catching.
Balance and natural shapes in forms bring forward softness in contrast to stronger geometrics. A rectangular dining table in a rectangular room will create a sense of harmony while adding a series of round pendant fixtures above the table will achieve contrast. However, too many forms can result in a confusing design.
Natural and artificial light is essential, without which the other elements cannot be taken to their full potential. Lighting can be broken into categories like task, accent, and mood lighting, making it important to assess the lighting required for the space. For example, offices require bright lighting for the employees to work and be alert, but the living room lighting will be softer. Lighting can set the mood of the intended space. Repressed lighting exudes a cosy feeling, while rooms bathed in natural lighting feel airy and cheerful.
The majority of interiors make use of both natural and artificial illumination. While the quantity and quality of daylight might appear fixed, it can be fixed using window coverings like curtains and blinds. Artificial light comes from the room’s ambient lighting— the accent light draws attention to certain features while the task lighting draws attention to specific tasks.
Colour is the most influential element in the design process. With the ability to alter moods and shift our experience of space, this element defines the overall aesthetic direction. Before choosing any fixtures, the colour palette should be determined— something that might seem scary but is not as it seems. The basis for the colour scheme is determined by seeing what colours speak to the users or play most functionally for the space.
For example, creating a monochromatic scheme with the colour blue, it’s best to start with your favourite hue and layer furniture and textiles in different tones of the colour. All monochromatic schemes require visual breaks, so using one or two elements that create a visible difference is enough to balance the monochrome palette. However, if you want a dynamic colour scheme, consider complementary or analogous colours. Even if less saturated colours are used, the contrast creates excitement and maintains harmony.
Not only can colour set the mood for the room, but it can also make a room feel larger, lighter, or cosier. It’s vital that the colour selected complements the room’s use with restful shades for bedrooms but energetic hues for an office, for example. Colours have the power to change a dark and depressing space into a bright and cheerful one. Using calm and neutral colours, on the other hand, conveys peace and serenity. Rich tones will bring forward a luxurious and regal feeling.
Patterns included in any space bring forward personality and can highlight or disguise particular features. Whether on furniture, draperies or within artworks, patterns can liven up the room. However, they should be considered carefully as patterns can overwhelm or dominate the space without regard for scale, colour or intensity. Four factors must be considered in this selection:
- The size of the room
- The number of individual patterns
- The scale of shapes and colours
Small patterns have a more subtle effect than large patterns with a distinct and contrasting colour scheme. Larger patterns with bright colours can visually shrink the room, while smaller patterns can create visual flow in the room if all the other elements are in harmony. Pattern is another element that can add interest to a room and might come from rugs, wallpaper, furnishings and artwork. The style of the pattern, whether geometric or abstract, should be in harmony with the rest of the scheme.
Texture refers to the visual and material conformity of surfaces within a space and the space itself. Texture helps create the depth required for successful design in a room with no patterns. Unlike the other elements, textures have the most significant impact if used properly. The contrast of hard and soft or smooth and rough can interest the people interacting with the space.
While texture matters because of its feel, it also plays a vital role in our visual senses. Every part of the room’s scheme, from furniture and floor coverings to fabrics and decorative accessories, contributes to the selection of textures. They can enhance existing features or add dimension to a space. In a small, dark room, smooth and shiny finishes give the space a sense of natural light. On the other hand, in a large, bright room, rough textures can balance out the natural light excess.
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Other source types
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- Jamali, M.M.Q., (2021), Interior Designing (An Introduction to Interior).