Excellence in design is not as simple as many would think. It is a complex composition made up of many interrelated elements, which are both aesthetic and practical. It is the sensitive and expertly orchestrated endeavor of creating correct relationships. When done well, great design will delight the eyes, satisfy the soul, and engage the intellect.
In a perfectly furnished room, the parts are so congruous and harmonious in line, proportion and coloring that the room appears to have actually grown that way. Nevertheless, it is a purely artistic creation, made up of many separate elements. These elements include floor and wall coverings, furniture, hangings, and decorative accessories of many kinds. It’s about expertly choosing and combining all these various elements, while at the same time recognizing excellence, or lack of it within each individual element.
Studying the principles of design, established centuries ago is the foundation for excellence in interior design. The Greeks established most of the architectural orders, along with their mastery of the elements of form, shape, line, and proportion, plus their ministry of the freeform curved line. These elements constitute some of the tools in the “toolbox” of the designer.
Writing of the art of painting, Leonardo Da Vinci long ago observed, that “Those who become enamored of the practice of the art without having previously applied themselves to the diligent study of the scientific part of it, may be compared to mariners who put to sea without rudder or compass, and therefore cannot be certain of arriving at the wished-for port. Practice must always be founded on good theory.”
Every design, whatever its character or style, consists essentially of a plan and details. It cannot be good design unless the details are subordinate to and orchestrated with the overall plan and concept. In addition, the details must be very coordinated with the overall concept, thereby eliminating anything inharmonious in the design.
The process of combining all the components and elements of interior design into a holistic presentation is all about the “art of composition.” For example, poetry combines words into phrases, lines and stanzas in such ways that each word and each phrase helps all the others. Musical composition combines notes and tones into delightful relationships known as chords, and these chords into rhythm, tonality, melody and expression. Interior design and decoration takes lines, shapes, colors and textures; or, more concretely, rugs, wall coverings, fabrics, furniture, pictures, statuary, pottery, and lamps, and “weaves” them all together in such a way that each of them are helping the other look more beautiful. The total composition is not only holistic, but synergistic as well.
What does the statement mean that words or tones help each other? It means that each contributes, according to its own nature and in the most effective and aesthetically enhancing way possible, toward the expression of a common idea or concept.
When things harmonize, or go well together, they share a common significance and therefore concur in the expression of a common idea or concept. Orchestrating and directing everything to say one thing is important, so the room does not “mumble,” but communicates clearly the intent of the design in terms of the look, feel, and ambiance.
A room, however, is not like a picture or a sculpture. It is not complete in and of itself. It is complete and fulfilled, only when there are people in it and enjoying it. It is not in existence solely for itself, but primarily to provide a sympathetic and pleasing background for the people who live in it and to be supportive of them in every way possible.
It is, as it is, on my business card; “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” Moreover, “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.”