Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why Your Designs Work – Gestalt Principles in Successful Home Design

Earlier this week, I posted about basic principles of Gestalt. If you didn't catch that post, you can read about it here.

In a nutshell, Gestalt is a set of principles arrived at by a group of German psychologists in the 1920’s. They attempted to describe how humans perceive and organize visual elements into groups of "unified wholes" by using a set of principles. Gestalt is about order - it is the opposite of chaos.

We are designed to prefer order, relationship and completion.

Our brains can literally connect the dots. Gestalt is why you are able to read this blog! Without your brain’s ability to see things as a whole, you would not be able to read words, only to perceive each letter as a separate unit. SO, it goes without saying that we all use the principles of Gestalt many times every day without thinking about it.

The purpose of this post is to help you to be aware of it, so you can use it intentionally. You can save time and frustration by applying these principles to your home décor, artwork and diy projects.

You’re obviously in tune with your creative side, or you would not be reading blogs like this! You know when something is RIGHT. You also know when it is not quite right. This post will hopefully help you to know WHY, and to plan your projects and room arrangements using these principles from the beginning. You’ll save time and be happier with your results!

The following photos are all from Pinterest. They will help illustrate the principles of Gestalt: 

When objects are the same form, color, size, value (light or dark) or brightness, we often perceive them as a complete group or pattern. 

Here are some examples using similar form or shape in successful design:

Collections are excellent examples of similar form and shape!

Here are some examples of color in successful design:

White (of course!)

Saturated Bright Colors (not dull or grayed-down)

Same Color, different types of objects:

Close Value Colors (all light or all dark)

Here are some examples of size in successful design:

The image above has objects of equal size in each different quadrant. If they were all mixed together, the design would be chaotic.

Closure occurs when an object is incomplete or a space is not completely enclosed. If enough information is indicated, we perceive the whole by "filling in" the missing information.

Here is an example of Closure in successful design:

The work of art above has a variety of colors and sizes, but our eye perceives them as a vertical rectangular shape. 

Otherwise unrelated items that are within close proximity to each other will be perceived as a group. Adversely, similar items with enough distance between them will appear to be singular and not part of a whole group.

Gallery walls are EXCELLENT examples of  Proximity !

Though we can't see all of it, this design is most likely asymmetrical symmetry - balanced. (SEE - I'm using gestalt!)
You can use two dimensional mirrors and artwork as well as three dimensional items like the wall-mounted bust.

Below, the proximity is VERY asymmetrical:

See this amazing example of asymmetrical symmetry in a corner? Love it!

Symmetry means the design is exactly the same on both sides – you could fold a design in half vertically, and it would match. This design is the most “safe” design choice. It is calm, comforting and predictable. It is associated with traditional and upscale design.  
Here are some examples of achieving successful designs using

Asymmetrical Symmetry is balanced, but not the same on both sides. It is an easy look to achieve, somewhat more casual than Symmetry, and great for transitional and contemporary design.

Here are some examples of achieving successful designs using Asymmetrical Symmetry:

Asymmetry is the most difficult look in which to achieve a successful balanced design. When done well, it is very interesting! It is usually done in very artsy modern environments.

Here are some examples of achieving successful designs using Assymetry:

Elements with the same moving direction are perceived as a unit.

Here are some examples of achieving successful designs using Direction:

Our brains like patterns. They will continue visual, auditory, and kinetic patterns. The eye is compelled to move through one object and continue to another object by inserting another element to connect them. 

The gallery wall above uses Continuity and Direction. See how the center line unifies the arrangement in a uniquely successful arrangement?

Here are some examples of achieving successful designs using Continuity:

The branch in the photo below extends into the vignette of photos, connecting the areas.

See how the ledge above the desk is the same height as the center line of the window? Continuing a line in a room is another way to allow our eye to flow...

Word for the Day:

Isaiah 64:4
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

May you perceive Him in all things today! 

Linking with:
Friday Furniture Feature Friday Fridays on Remodelaholic Friday Redoux Link Party Frugal Friday Frugalicious Friday
Saturday Show and Tell Saturday 



Good stuff! You've got me looking around the house for examples. I *think* I might have pulled off the difficult "asymentry" concept with my mantle. Then again maybe we just see what we want to see, and that's a whole other psychology lesson right? LOL

outjunking said...

Does the style of Gestalt we use in our homes say something about how we see the world? Your positive or nurturing you know something like that.

Revi said...

Good question! I don't think I've ever seen any information that they've studied that - the only thing I've really heard from my design teacher is that the symmetrical designs are "safe" and more conservative. Asymmetrical designs are more wild and artsy - usually by people who like to break the rules, or at least think outside the box. I think Asymmetrical Symmetry (my personal favorite) is somewhere between the two. If you think about those personality types, you might infer some other qualities to them. Interesting to think about! :)

Ricki Jill Treleaven said...

Wow, what an informative post. I love how you found fantastic eye candy photos to teach us these principles. Love it! I have bookmarked this page.


Stevie from said...

great post - thanks for sharing all of this with such great examples too.

somewhat quirky said...

Great post Revi! I'm the queen of asymmetrical. What I didn't know is how often I use "directional" to add a little bit of the CRAZY.

CJ Foss said...

Good post! I love the whole Gestalt of it! Thanks for articulating it so well. ~CJ

lynn said...

great post, revi! you found some gorgeous pics to help tell the story:)

Dottie said...

Love this post! Lots of helpful information and interesting things to think about. I too wonder about the connection of personality/way of being and attraction to one style or another. I feel much safer when using a symmetrical design, but I really like asymmetrical or asymmetrical symmetry better. Thanks for a very thought provoking helpful post.

blesid said...

That was the most interesting post I've read in a long, long time. Very informative with such beautiful pictorial examples to back it up! Kudos on a job well done! I'm one of your new followers... happy to find another woman of faith to follow and learn from! Have a great weekend, jules

Honey at 2805 said...

Very interesting and informative, Revi! Thank you for sharing at Potpourri Friday!

Brooke @ Inside-Out Design said...

This was so interesting!! I love that I just learned something during my "blog time". Excellent post!!

Revi said...

Thank you guys for all the kind words. I forget how blessed I was to learn this stuff from a good professor. It becomes second nature after a little practice, and very obvious to your eye. I think I'm going to begin some posts about use of color - color theory - next. :) If you liked this, you will like that info, too. :)

Dottie said...

Love to learn more about color theory and use of color!! Please keep sharing your design expertise!! Thanks

Drama Mama Lori said...

Wow, love to learn! Thanks so much!! New follower! ~Lori

Monica Andrioli said...

I am a new follower-needless to say...I absolutely love your blog! You help me realize why I love decorating,re-organizing things and hunting for shabby-chic finds wherever I go... said...

love this blog as much as your color them all!