Design is a funny thing. It’s something that surrounds us every day in everything we see, the products we buy, the food we eat, the internet, credit cards, clothing, our car, and for most of us, the water we drink. Literally, design touches everything before it touches us.
Design is like a silent educator. Years of research and mountains of money are spent every day to cater to our demands and tastes. And these tastes are getting more and more educated every day. As a result, design is getting more competitive and important than ever.
Let’s look at some of the basics. Red. We have been conditioned to look at red as value. Stores like Kmart, Target, Kohl’s, Macys, etc. know that red works in projecting to consumers that they represent value. As our tastes become more sophisticated, so does the marketing. Red is not a color you’ll see plastered on signs at Neiman Marcus. Instead, you’ll see blended, rich colors, which we as consumers understand as more expensive, elite or exclusive.
Color is only one aspect of design. This is not a blog on color but let’s assume that, knowing different colors produce different results, we can attract a certain market based primarily on certain colors. If, for instance, we’re looking for a color for a product to appeal to men and women equally, peach would be it. And if we need to project a feeling of calmness, turquoise, like the waters of the Caribbean will do the trick. You get the picture. Blue is cooling and refreshing, yellow is friendly, green is restful, orange is fun, black is elegant and so forth.
Shapes also play an important role in design. Hard edges with square corners present a severe image. Rounded edges imply something more organic. This is true for everything from typography to furniture. A quick study of different company logos and you’ll being to see that their lettering subtly implies their message. Simple block styles for lower prices. Fancier is serif lettering for more expensive. Of course this is a simplified explanation but it makes the point.
Space, or spacing, is a huge component of design. Whether it’s a cluttered little showroom where you expect to find bargains or a large gallery where each piece is displayed separately so it can be admired for its beauty. Or a store with piles of the same clothes in every size or a boutique with limited pieces and sizes. It affects how we react and we get a feeling for what’s in store for us without looking at the price tags.
Design has many more aspects. To truly understand all of them would take years of intense study but almost anyone can appreciate it if they take the time to notice it.
So how does this relate to our home? That’s simple. We use design to express who we are. We select the colors that appeal to our senses. We arrange our homes in a way that gives us comfort. We use textures to say relaxed or formal. And so on and so on.
As a designer, all of these come into play when working with a client. It’s a psychological maze that needs to be maneuvered and understood before the first decision can be made. Then each choice must go through a process of qualifications relating to use, cost, size, comfort, style, etc. Add to that the relationship of placement (spacing), creative selections, coordinating colors and patterns, detailing or styling (shapes), lifestyle, etc. and you can begin to see that great interior design results do not happen by chance.
It’s easy to flip through magazines and admire completed projects or walk through a showroom and spot a piece of furniture that you really love. But when that happens, take a second look at it and imagine the people and time involved to bring it to you. Notice the details, the subtleties and nuances and the amount of time spent in the design process in order to bring it to you. What inspired them? Why did they select that finish? What made them choose that hardware?
Once you develop the ability to see design, you will notice a change in the way you see many other things. It’s an appreciation that will flow into everything you will become.