Every branch of graphic design and visual communications has its own set of rules: the rule of threes in photography, the Golden Ratio in architecture, and the importance of white space in print.
Is there such a thing as objective beauty? We don’t know, but we do know that if you need your beauty to be based on some simple rules, here’s a few tips to draw inspiration from.
- The Golden Ratio
This is one of those strange ubiquitous figures: as mentioned earlier, the golden ratio is used in ancient Greek and Roman architecture; it also represents the proportions of parts of the human body, and musical sequences. That key ratio is 1:1.61, and affects so many areas of interior aesthetics.
When choosing the furniture in a room, for example, this ratio translates into a 2:3 ratio. So when choosing a couch, choose a size that is 2/3 the size of the maximum space available for a couch; when choosing a coffee table, that should be 2/3 of the couch size, and so on.
- Interior Design Colour Palette
The interior design rule of choosing a colour palette, called the 10-30-60 Rule, is also based on The Golden Ratio. First is the dominant color, which should cover around 60% of the space and is usually used in areas like walls and flooring. The secondary color takes up 30% of the space and is used for features like furniture and tables. Finally, a bolder accent color should take up the final 10% and is used in smaller décor items.
- Dash of Colour
“Punches of colour keep a room feeling youthful and engaging,” advises Christina Murphy, dubbed one of America’s top interior designers.
This can be of real use to designs that feel old and boring to designers’ eyes: a colourful icon, an ornate border, or a few lively lines can really make a difference to the page you’re designing – or in print, to freshen up your magazine cover.
- Feng Shui
This ancient art of interior design is more than matching colours and textured rugs: it creates a sense of wellbeing and happiness in your home and workspace. The philosophy is based on the power of ‘chi’ energy, the five elements, and allocating a space in your personal or professional dwelling for your health and mind, as well as your work and wealth.
These tips can be hugely useful to designers who wish to create a particular calming effect on readers by researching the teachings of feng shui and using calming colours, rounded shapes and earthy tones and textures.
“The most important thing? Perfect lighting at all times,” said the famous fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, and puts his finger on an often-neglected part of design.
Light plays an integral part in architecture: considerations on whether windows are east or west facing affect the best colour choice for the room, the artificial lighting choices, and even the heating. This can be useful when choosing images for your design: consider the mood and subject of the copy and match that with the warmth of the photo.
Space is obviously another big player in design. As of late there has been a particular focus on minimalist, Scandinavian-style decorating across the design board, which gives a refreshing, clean and clear feel to a room. The traditional rule of interior design is not to fill a space, but to leave it there and let the room (and people) breathe. This has an obvious spill into print design: the all-important white space, which attracts the eye and lets the ‘designed’ spaces breathe.
- Take a Step Back
“Ceilings must always be considered. They are the most neglected space in a room,” said the late and great American interior designer Albert Hadley.
As important as it is to leave a space free of interference, that doesn’t mean other spaces should be neglected. Even cleaning and repainting a ceiling white can have drastic effects on the brightness of a room: so too should you consider the neglected parts of your design.