Principles of Design: 6 Need-To-Know Principles of Design

Interior design is linked with decoration. Although each person has their tastes and preferences, there are 6 basic principles that you should follow if you want a successful decorating scheme.
Principles of Design: 6 Need-To-Know Principles of Design

Last update: 30 December, 2018

The 6 principles of design can be applied to many professional areas. These principles of design are not only used in interior design but also graphic design.

Before talking about these 6 basic principles of design, we have to understand the difference between interior design and interior decoration.

This is because, although on many occasions these phrases are used interchangeably, they are not the same.

What is interior design? And interior decoration?

The difference lies in the fact that interior design requires knowledge of structures, architecture, and functionality of buildings or rooms.

Interior design can range from working on something entirely new to redoing or restoring a space.

Interior decoration is using a space properly and functionally for furniture and decoration.

They are different concepts and each one fulfills a specific role. Many interior designers are qualified to decorate. Therefore, you usually don’t need a designer and a decorator.

However, sometimes, an interior designer has to work hand in hand with a decorator.

Interior decoration is another facet of interior design.

The 6 principles of design can help you both in interior design and decoration. Likewise, they can also be applied to any artistic area.

The 6 principles of design are:

Principle 1: Emphasis/focus points

This consists of giving prominence to an element or point of interest through color and size.

To identify a focal point, just walk into the room and see where your attention focuses.

You can emphasize the natural elements of the room, such as a fireplace. However, if you don’t have these, you can create artificial focal points.

Through using different sizes and colors, you can place more attention on certain elements. Therefore, you break up the visual hierarchy and highlight other points of interest.

Principle 2: Balance and equilibrium

This design principle tries to create harmony. When a room has a sense of balance, it encourages relaxation.

However, to create this feeling, it’s important how and where elements are located within the room.

There are two types of balance:

  • Formal: This is also known as the symmetrical balance that creates the feel of open space.
  • Informal: This refers to asymmetry. In this type of balance, you use elements with the same visual weight, although in a different way. This creates warmth.

Principle 3: Rhythm/movement

This principle of design is important because it forces our eye to perceive a set of elements as a unified whole.

Rhythm or movement is the ease with which our eyes pass from one element to another.

There are two ways to apply this principle:

  • Through elements arranged radially.
  • Placing elements in a linear way.

Rhythm is created through sequences of shapes, colors, or textures.

Principle 4: Proportion/scale

This principle is very important because objects and elements should be in proportion to the room. You don’t want things that are very large or very small. Instead, you need things that are the right size for the room.

Ways to apply this principle:

  • Size: elements of different dimensions that are related to each other.
  • Proportion: elements related to each other and are in harmony visually.
  • Division: elements are divided into different sizes that form a unit.

Principle 5: Harmony/succession

This principle advocates the consistency of sizes and shapes. Also, there should be harmony between colors and patterns.

You can achieve this by repeating elements throughout the room. 

However, be careful! Too much repetition can be boring. On the other hand, too much variation causes a sensation of instability. Therefore, the key to a good design is finding the right mix.

Principle 6: Simplicity/complexity

This principle refers to the way that we distribute the elements.

  • Simplicity: Elements should be in an organized and orderly manner, following a pattern.
  • Complexity: Elements are in a disorderly way and don’t follow logic.

Concluding principles of design

The key to a successful design or decoration is to apply these design principles.

These are logical principles that you can easily apply to your home.

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