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Design Tip: Short Tips Series

Furniture World Magazine


FORM fills space and defines it. A trained eye learns to notice not only the form, but also to appreciate the void which adjoins and is defined by it. This relationship is much like the interplay between shadow and light. Forms have bulk and shape.

Rectangular forms can give a room a sense of sturdiness and certainty, but overuse can be repetitive and monotonous. Most rooms, furniture and wall decor are basically rectangles; having straight sides and right angled corners.

Angular forms are less common than rectilinear. They, therefore, attract and keep attention.
Diagonals can be used to imply motion and also increase the apparent size of an object.
Curved forms impart feelings of security, continuous change and continuity. Circles, arcs and cones have a focal point to which attention is drawn, lending emphasis to a design scheme. Sectionals, upholstered back, arm and cushion treatments, lamp shades, dining and occasional tables, vases, plates, fabric and rug designs often employ curved forms and motifs. They can be used as the basis or theme of a room design or to offset and balance angular and rectilinear forms.

LINE can be used to alter the mood and proportion of a living space. Form and line are closely related. A rectangle can be tall and high or long and low, approximating vertical or horizontal lines. A low, long rectangular sofa may generate a feeling of stability and certainty resulting from its form - and also of informality and length due to its lines.

Horizontal Lines can be used to make spaces seem more relaxed and informal, and accentuate the horizontal aspect or length of walls or furnishings.

Vertical Lines, like the geometry of a Gothic cathedral, can add dignity and formality to a room. They also make objects seem taller in relation to their width.

Curved Lines evoke the same kinds of responses as curved forms. Depending on their spatial orientation, they can also incorporate properties of horizontal or vertical lines.

Diagonal Lines can create a feeling of imbalance and dynamic movement. Like curved lines, their impact changes with their horizontal or vertical aspect.

Text excerpted from Furniture World Magazine’s 16 page Interior Design Guide (reprints available in the furninfo.com store).

Furniture World is the oldest, continuously published trade publication in the United States. It is published for the benefit of furniture retail executives. Print circulation of 20,000 is directed primarily to furniture retailers in the US and Canada.  In 1970, the magazine established and endowed the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library (www.furniturelibrary.com) in High Point, NC, now a public foundation containing more than 5,000 books on furniture and design dating from 1620. For more information contact editor@furninfo.com.