THE MIND’S EYE – A BALANCING ACT
November 15, 2022
As soon as I stepped into my client’s living room, I saw it. There. Right in front of me; gnawing at the balancing act of my mind’s eye. Something was clearly not right. “What is it!?”, I asked myself. Ha! At last! I found it! The culprit? The window valance. Whispering out loud – “me”.
Immediately, I knew what I was looking at. The scale was off by a few inches. I also knew it had to be making my client crazy. Yep. I was right. Because it was just subtle enough to cause confusion. Just subtle enough to annoy those who have no concept of what they are looking at.
Our Mind’s Eye
How is it that our mind’s eye can perceive imbalance when our conscious eye can’t even begin to grasp it…except to know that something feels off-kilter? Imagine a piece of art that seems to be slanting to one side. If you are like me, you have a burning desire to fix it. What you don’t know is the art is level, the ceiling line is crooked.
First of all, the seven principles of design are balance, emphasis, contrast, scale & proportion, unity, rhythm and details. Second, designers know that balance encompasses them all. Similarly, they know that without it, their principles have no plot. Why? Because balance is the secret sauce that pulls it all together to feed our sense of equilibrium.
Which leads us to the trick of their trade – How? The Balancing Act. Briefly – Cause and effect are optimized as balance is used to create mood, energy and space. Let’s dive into a quick study on how the best designers work a room with this little trick up their sleeve.
It’s A Balancing Act
Symmetrical Balance – Elements are arranged on either side of a focal point (the emphasis) in an equally weighted manner…an easy balancing act for our mind’s eye. As in Feng Shui design. A philosophy exemplifying serenity and chi, Feng Shui suggests identical night tables framing a bed will create harmony and restful sleep.
Asymmetrical Balance – Items visually matching in weight create balance even when they are different, such as the classic style of a sofa facing two proportionally scaled chairs.
This is the one designers keep in their pocket. All the principles of design are put into action to build upon asymmetry. The goal is to “keep the eye moving” through rhythm and balance.
In this Elegant Mid-Century Interior, the designer used Asymmetrical Balance to create the serene and formal ambiance primarily found in symmetrical design. Hmmm…Who besides me is guessing there is a floor to ceiling fireplace facing the ottomans?I love it.
House Beautiful: Mad Men Style-The Best of the 1960’s. September 1961 Image
Pulling It All Together To Make Music (Rhythm)
The above 1960’s retro interior shows how it all works. Note how the lighter pinks in the floral arrangements, sofa and chairs gently duplicate one another. In contrast, the darker coloring of the ottomans balance the weight of the hutch. The glass coffee tables are a spot on complement to the windows behind the sofa. They not only create unity, but they also lend a modern flair to the ambiance;as do the pairing of the gold lamps and the coffee tables. Can you see how rhythm makes the room dance?
I saved the best for last, as I am enamored! Look at how those same gold lamps marry the gold in the sofa and coffee table vase. A visually stunning and extremely effective balancing act, the takeaway is a lesson on how symmetry creates formality and serenity, while rhythm and asymmetry work together to create movement and contrast.
While symmetrical design is clean and creates a sense of calm and serenity, their artistically inspired asymmetrical peer creates movement and contrast. Hence, the challenge is learning to mix both the vast elements of asymmetry, and the clean elements of symmetry. Voila! Perfect balance for your favorite spot. And your mind’s eye.
Is Something Off-Kilter?
Is something off-kilter? Possibly, the balancing act of your mind’s eye is creating havoc? Most likely, you are dealing with a balance issue that is not just your imagination. So, step back and observe. Then, get up close and personal to see what doesn’t belong.
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Peace and Balance, Peg
Asymmetry, Frank Lloyd Wright, Greek Vases, House Beautiful, Library of Congress, London Publication, Mad Men, Mid-Century, Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach, Paradise Valley, Ruby Ross Wood, Symmetry, U-Haul House, Wolcott Blair