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The 7 elements of design.

'Super creatives' use The 7 'elements of design' to get results and knowing how to use them is the difference between a great designer and a mediocre one.


After 25 years in the industry, the principles have become second language and knowing how to work with them is the secret behind unlocking potential and taking advantage of unique opportunities for any project that I work on.

The elements include light, line, space, form, colour, texture and pattern; keeping them balanced is the key to creating an aesthetically pleasing design no matter which creative pastime you're involved in or what kind of medium you're working with.




The elements are essential in enhancing the look and feel of any design and in some cases effective use of the principles can substantially increasing functionality too.


The elements of design are tools that allow the designer to come to firm conclusions based on theory not just intuition. An experienced designer can properly explain the reasons behind their advice with logic and clarity. They will often reference the elements of design in their discussions with clients and involve these in their overall analysis and approach to the design.This will ensure the best possible outcomes for each project and provide individualistic designs that never repeat or become monotonous or recognisable between projects. Each project has it's own different outcomes and are implemented with creativity and careful consideration.


A more inexperienced designer may have a good creative grasp on design but may not be able to identify and prioritise the most important elements right away. It may take a little more time and thought to reach the outcomes. In time, and with years of experience, the elements become more fluid.


Anyway... let's take a closer look at the elements, I know you're just itching to find out more! With the use of these elements and knowing the principles of interior design we can create amazing dreamy spaces with great subliminal qualities and practicality too. Let’s find out more...


1. Light

Light is an important element of interior design whether it is a commercial or residential space. It may be natural light or light from an artificial source, but it is a very critical thing that is considered in the building of your spaces and of course to design the interiors well. Without the proper use of lighting, every other element would be of no or little use.

That's why interior designers place special emphasis on lighting.


If you get your lighting right, the visual effects of all other elements will help make your spaces truly beautiful and feel fantastic too.

When working with lighting for your interiors, special care is taken to identify the various activities and purposes for the different lights. Most important thing to consider when setting up lighting design is layering. There are three main types:

  • Ambient lighting – used to light the entire area. The main purpose of Ambient light is to create good visibility of the space when required.

  • Task lighting – involves illuminating smaller areas, where we need strong direct light such as what is needed for reading or up close work of any kind.

  • Accent lighting – to provide light for specific areas and objects. We want to draw special attention to our precious items or to create special effects . Accent lighting often creates mood and is very important in any design.


2. Line

The use of line in interior design is helpful in guiding and navigating the eye through the space.

These lines could be vertical, horizontal and dynamic which allows the interior designer to create a space that has intrigue an finesse. Line, when used correctly, helps to create balance and harmony.

  1. Horizontal lines create a great sense of formality, efficiency, and stability. Dining table, kitchen Countertops and drawers with their horizontal lines helps to make a room look larger.

  2. Vertical lines are formed by the features by doorways and windows. These lines evoke a sense e of unlimited strength and freedom in a spaces. At a functional level, these vertical lines create the illusion of a taller space. You must ensure that they don’t become too heavy or overbearing.

  3. Dynamic lines can be diagonal, curved or zigzags.They can be seen in structures such as stairs or railing. They provide contrast and relief to a room. Dynamic lines are great for wow factor and typically catch the eye, direct the eye to a focal point or grab attention. This knowledge comes with a warning! Overuse, can be distracting and can sometimes be to dominant if not used wisely.

3. Space

When it comes to the elements of interior design, space is fundamental. No plan or design would work if you don't use space wisely and with careful consideration. To ensure that you make the most out of a space, making the best use of available space is key.

In interior design, space is like a canvas on which an artist starts his painting. It's the 'composition' of a room.

Interior designers use their knowledge of dimension in a room - length, breadth, and height.

Interior designers determine what can be done to enhance the functionality of this three-dimensional space and what changes, tweaks and other alterations that are needed to do to get the best result. Its so important to utilize space in a manner that best suits the requirements of the occupants for a functional result.

In the science of interior design, space can be divided into two types:

  • Positive space – include the space where all the objects, the appliances, the furniture and everything else in the house lies.

  • Negative space is the empty space including the empty space in between the objects.

The main objective is to achieve perfect balance between the positive and the negative space to avoid overcrowding or the opposite being an empty, sparse feeling in a certain area.


Negative spaces may be needed in paths and passages in the rooms for traffic flow but also to create better emphasis for focal points by framing them and providing visual relief. Thi s also helps to reduce the feeling of clutter in a space.

Consideration is also given to the size and scale of various objects and furniture. No matter design style you like, striking the right balance will ensure you make the best use of your space.


4. Form

Form is all about the shape of a room. It refers to the shape that outlines your entire room as well as the objects that fill the room. While everything else that is two dimensional will merely have a shape, every three-dimensional thing will have a form.

In interior design, a form can be described either to be natural or geometrical.

Geometrical forms refer to the square edges and the hard lines that form the outline of your room. The geometric forms are a result of man-made construction or building of the space and as such the outlines and the lines are formed by the structure itself.


Natural forms are made and created by nature. Designers make use of these natural forms meticulously for a great result. They naturally soften a space and provide comfort for the eye as they contrast with more structured Geometrical form.


The scale and proportion of the space is also one other thing that needs to be taken into consideration. The objects that are placed inside the room should suit the room dimensions and form and be well placed like a display. It's important to take into consideration the placement of furniture in the room as well as decor items when considering form.


5. ColoUr

An skilled interior designer must practice and master the use of colour in order to ensure success for any project. Where Space is the canvas for a painter, the colours are most certainly tool that an interior designer can use to make a masterpiece out of a space.

It is creative acumen that comes into play here. An designer is able to create the perfect blend of colors that will enhance a space and in the right quantities to get the best results. Not an easy feat but one that comes naturally with years of experience.


Colour has a profound psychological impact on the minds and the moods of the occupants of a space.

There is a science and psychology behind colour theory and it's importance can never be underestimated. A skilled and creative interior designer utilizes this opportunity, a powerful tool to create the right atmosphere for any room.

Though colour schemes and choice of colours depends more or less on the clients expectations, a designer can typically offer suggestions and alternatives to help the client think outside the square and consider all the options.

While selecting a color you should keep in mind this few things:

  • The activities for which the room will be used.

  • Keep in mind the availability of both sources of lighting in there, i.e artificial and natural as well as aspect.

  • Consideration of the size of a room.


6. Texture


Smooth, glossy, or coarse textures in almost all your objects, walls, curtains, and fabrics lend a subtle sense of depth in a design. Be it your furniture or accessories or walls, textures have the ability to add interest and detailing - it often provides a professional designer finish to a space.

Texture is one of the most overlooked elements of interior design.

Texture also has two classifications:

Actual textures also known as the tactile textures – textures that you can touch and feel. They are available in three-dimensional spaces and can be experienced by means of touch and sight.

Designers ensure that your room has enough textural components and not too much to create sensory overload or to appear overbaked.

Visual texture is about creating a visual illusion of texture. Wallpapering often make the walls and other interiors look like they are textured. A lack of texture can be dull and lifeless.


7. Pattern

Patterns are created by making use of repetition. Designers usually make use of patterns in the use of materials such as wallpapers, rugs, fabrics, and other soft furnishings.

We know different types of patterns such as: stripes, pictorial, geometric, motif, animal prints and organic.


Along with their knowledge and practice of the elements of design, there are a set of special skills that designers need to create their magic.

  • Artistic ability.

  • Creativity.

  • Detail oriented.

  • Interpersonal skills - communication and listening.

  • Problem-solving skills - an analytical mind.

  • Visualization.



I feel that a bit of design theory is always helpful for those of you that are interested in the process...

I hope this blog has helped you to more easily understand the 'language' of design. It might help you with your upcoming project, your artwork or just decorating your home. If you get stuck, you know where to find me. Bye for now.

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