The Elements of Design and My Purpose for Blogging

There are lots of terms specific to this business that people comprehend fully, but there are also others that can be confusing. And because I oftentimes find myself defining these terms with my clients, I feel this post -- perhaps my last post to be published on Design In the Woods :( -- would be an appropriate place to discuss the basic elements of design.

Side-note: Just because I'll no longer be posting on this Blogger account, doesn't mean I'm retiring. I'll just be packing up my virtual sketch board and relocating it to a new address that can be found at the end of this post.

Now hang in here with me, alright? I'm going to be referring back to my college textbook for a moment and need you to pardon some of the "boring" definitions I'm about to lay in front of you. However, with that said, I still promise this post to be highly valuable to all walks of life. So stay with me, okay?

"Elements of Design"

This is a term that describes some of the basic tools used to come up with a design solution. This term is often used to define anything that makes up the whole, however the textbook definition describes it thusly:

"There are several elements of design that interior designers use according to some basic principles to create spaces that satisfy the functional and aesthetic goals of a problem. These design elements and principles are used by painters, graphic designers, sculptors, and other visual artists."*

 In other words...these are the tools of the artist.

1. Form - linear, flat, round, curved, cylindrical, square......all types of forms make up interior spaces.


blogpost - Curvy Shapes in Interiors

2. Scale - "the relative size of something as related to another element of known size"*


blogpost - When Scale Doesn't Matter

3. Color - color can be a powerful design tool and is "one of the most dominant perceptions of the physical world"*


blogpost - Color - The Most Powerful Element of Design

4. Texture - adds another layer to the complexity of a space, can be tactile or just visual


blogpost - Project Reveal - all about texture

5. Pattern - the repetition of a decorative motif or image


blogpost - Pattern

6. Light - light affects all of the above, how we perceive objects and spaces


blogpost - Patterns of Light

The unique combinations created when these elements are combined are endless.  The absolute BEAUTY behind them is that these principles are UNIVERSAL.  Once you've learned them, you can apply them to any aesthetic endeavor , and they will help you...

...understand...develop...create... any visual medium, whether it's interior design, fine art, advertising art, fashion, product design, photography, landscape design, architecture, etc.  

Why do you think it's easy for designers to "cross over" into other markets?

  • Ralph Lauren designs everything from clothing to bedding and furniture.  
  • Michael Graves is an architect who was also tapped by Target for product design.  Now you can buy an incredibly unique broom at Target that feels good in your hands, functions beautifully, and looks good too. 
  • Phillipe Starck, architect and designer, now designs clothing, even automobiles.  

These legends are able to "cross-over" because they understand The Elements of Design.

The universal truths all designers use as the backbone of their work.

As I prepare to leave this blog and move on to my new one, I wanted to revisit the basic Elements of Design so I could tie up some loose ends and remember the purposes behind why I ever began creating this tiny bit of space in the digital universe for my thoughts. You see...

To talk about design in its purest form is a pure experience in itself. 

It's at the crux of 

WHY things are done on a project from the beginning,

WHY decisions are made along the way,

WHY everything impacts the whole,

WHY the end result is a combination of many elements and not just one,

WHY design is multifaceted and complex yet so simple and straightforward,

WHY design is important and why understanding it is even more so.



...subtly and without pronouncement, but with


(Can you tell I'm a little passionate about this???  ;-)

I'll be continuing to use these as my guide with my new site, but also with so many other endeavors in my life.

Although I'm having a little anxiety over leaving my google ranking, I'm going to leave this baby here in it's entirety. I'll refer back to it from time to time and you can feel free to do the same. It's been a great place to get my feet wet, to find my voice, to experiment, and take some missteps without making too much of a wave.  I'll always be able to look back on it and remember why I wrote some of those posts, what problems had come up on projects, what issues I was having with clients or contractors, what I had successfully been able to express to my clients and the viewers of my work and, of course...what I had not.

Friends and family often ask me why I waste time with this "blog-thing," and I reply that it's just become a part of me.  It's my creative outlet where I can say anything I want about something I care deeply about. I can't NOT do it! To my followers, supporters and those who stopped by once in awhile, I would've been here whether you came or not, doing exactly this...but it was so nice to share it with all of you. 

For all who have read this far...

Thank you. I value your friendship more than you know, and hope it can continue to grow even stronger as we take our relationship to the next level on my new website...

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I hope you'll join me there...

Image Sources: Amelia Handegan - Southern Accents,  Dick Bories and James Shearon - Elle Decor, Jonathan Berger - House Beautiful,  Aston Design Studio, Gideon Mendelson - House Beautiful, Zamzam Riad Boutique Hotel

* Definitions taken from Interior Design Reference Manual, David K. Ballast.

*All information in quotes taken from Interior Design Reference Manual by David K. Ballast, AIA

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