Use Space As A Design Element

When used well, each element of design reinforces the designer’s concept.  The element Space is an expanse to arrange objects in for beauty or function.  More than just walls and floors, space is also the 3D area or volume between them.  When designing, don’t just plan for use of the space at eye level and below; think of ways to use the layer over-head.  This frees up more physical space and visually heightens the room.  Lofts are an example of this.  However, it feels more natural to view things within our horizontal field of vision.

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Take care not to fill every bit of a space.  When you have many elements you should leave some areas free to give relief.  ‘Positive space’ is filled by objects or elements in the design but ‘Negative space’ is the shapeless empty area left over.   We move through negative spaces to reach areas of interest.  Physical space is used to both separate and connect elements in design.  Wider spaces separate elements from each other and narrower spaces show how elements are related.  Groupings of art are an example of this.

Small spaces tend to feel comfortable, intimate and private but their occupants are more likely to feel confined and restricted.

There are visual cues that create appearance of greater space.

For example, grouping similar objects simulates greater space by reducing clutter and improving rhythm.  One can cut the number of furnishings and use small-scale furniture pieces without pattern.  While smooth, reflective surfaces supply a sense of space as do light colours with little contrast, dark walls and dimly lit interiors psychologically diminish space.

Large spaces can convey a sense of freedom but they also have negative emotional impacts.  They are impersonal.  Their users may feel uncomfortable, isolated and insecure.  The formality and generous ‘negative space’ associated with expansive rooms, like those in convention centres, discourage social interaction.   Creating sub-zones, seating groups and defined areas of interest help to segment the space into a more manageable size, at least to the casual observer.

When one understands the elements and principles of design and uses them the result is a beautiful and effective space.   How did you use space in your project?

Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sacha K. Chabros and Design Felt with specific direction to the original content.

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