Beauty in Design - 4th Test of Excellence

Beauty in Design - 4th Test of Excellence

The fourth test of excellence in a design is the test of beauty. Beauty in a rug, a table or a textile is like beauty in the room as a unit in that it is beyond definition and beyond convincing analysis. It is, however, dependent upon unity in diversity, graceful and rhythmic line, good proportion, symmetry, and pleasing color. There is, of course, this obvious distinction: that the rug or the table or the velvet are but parts of the whole treatment, and as such may properly lack elements of beauty which are supplied by other parts of the whole. Thus a plain rug, like a plain paper or a plain taffeta, though it lack variety both in pattern and coloring, may be beautiful in a room where its plainness is required to set off the rich diversity of other decorative elements.

The best way to learn to recognize beauty in a design is to observe and compare designs, of whatever sort and wherever they are to be seen; whether in the home, the shop or the museum. The next best way, and a way open to all of us, whatever our situation, is to study illustrations of designs in books and magazines. It makes no difference that many of the designs we see are bad, so long as we see large numbers of examples, and study them carefully and impartially, for the eye and the mind quickly acquire through practice and discipline the power to discriminate between bad and good. In fact we learn to know the good more quickly through comparison with the bad.

It is important to note that the student will profit most largely from the observation and study of individual designs, rather than from groups made up of many diverse units. When the layman looks at a furnished room, whether in a book or out of it, he sees too much and grasps too little. Individual excellence or the lack of it is obscured or lost in the effect of the whole. The study of complete rooms is of course an important and necessary part of the training of the decorator-the study of them, not mere hurried glances at them, which are of slight value; but this study must be supplemented by the study of individual units and of related groups. The value of a systematic study of period decoration lies in considerable part in the fact that it presents for comparison these groups of related units, points out their resemblances and their differences, and makes it easy for the student to detect and fix in mind the sources of their excellence.

Another very important source of help toward acquiring the power to judge soundly of excellence in design is a study of the principles of design. This does not mean that the decorator must become a practical designer. It means only that his perceptions will be sharpened and his taste notably improved by a real familiarity with the theory of design. Many helpful studies in this subject will be found in the works of Walter Crane and Lewis F. Day, in works on the principles of design by Rhead, by Batchelder and by Jackson, and particularly in La composition decorative by Mayeux, a book published in English as The Manual of Decorative Composition. This work, particularly the first or theoretical part, is invaluable.

PLATE XV - 17th century chair

PLATE XV.- This richly carved 17th Century chair has a raked or inclined back with perpendicular back legs. Note that when the back of a chair is inclined the back legs must, to satisfy the demand of the mind for an appearance of stability, be inclined backward reciprocally, as in Figure 10

Every design, whatever its character, consists essentially of a plan and details, and it cannot be a good design unless the details are kept clearly subordinate to the plan and help in its perfect realization. We have seen this to be emphatically true of the design of a room as a unit, and it is equally true of the design of a rug or a chair. The Barocco chair shown in Figure 49 is an extreme example in furniture design of this defect. In this chair the mass of over-luxuriant ornamental detail obscures the structural lines of the piece and thus prevents the possibility of beauty, to say nothing of fitness, in the whole. Similar examples of the loss of beauty through subordination of plan to detail are afforded by the use of wall papers of large, sprawling or over-pronounced design in situations where the pattern strikes the openings and corners of the room in such irregular ways as to make the whole effect of the walls confusing and meaningless. This defect is frequently found in rooms where fine and costly hand-blocked landscape papers are used.

Designs with Walls and Wall Paper>>>>

Interior Decorating Course Interior Decorating Course
1. The Nature and Method of the Art | The Nature of Interior Decoration | The Method of Interior Decoration | 2. Fitness to Purpose | Interior Decoration Factors | Interior Decorator | Decorative Materials | 3. The Grammar of Decoration | Grammar of Decoration | Form and Color | 4. Line and Form | Line and Form | Curved Lines | Broken Vertical Lines | Diagonal Lines | Three Dimensions | 5. Color | The Nature of Color | The Study of Color | Complementary Colors | Color Constants | Color and Emotion | Color Binaries | 6. The Significance of Texture | The Significance of Texture | Harmonious Textures | 7. The Elements of Beauty | Elements of Beauty | The Human Mind | The Human Mind II | The Dominant Element | The Dominant Element 2nd Method | Reccuring Lines, Shapes and Echoed Colors | Repetition of Color | Perception of Beauty | Variety in Decoration | 8. The Law of Contrast | The Law of Contrast | Contrast and Comparison | Tone Contrast | Tranquility | Individual Feeling | 9. Proportion | Proportion | The Laws of Proportion | Proportions-Creation of a room | Proportions-Creation of a room II | Increasing & Diminishing The Apparent Size of a Room | The Arrangement of Furniture | Proportion-Individual Decorative Units | Instinctive Insistance of a Dominant Element | Basic Importance of Structure | Walls of a Room - Decoration and Proportion | 10. Balance | Balance | Decorative Weight or Power of Attraction | Fixed Decorations, Furniture & Small Unimportant Pieces | Bisymmetric and Formal Balance | Balanced Distribution of Pictures and Rugs | Structural Emphasis and Repose of Background Surfaces 11. Light and Shade | Light and Shade | Quantity and Intensity of Illumination | The Nature and Distribution of Light | Secondary Contracts between Background and Ornamental Objects | 12. The Dominant Hue | The Dominant Hue | Temperament in Decoration | Color to Supplement or Correct Nature | Choice of the Dominant Hue | Background Color | 13. Color Harmony | Color Harmony I | Color Harmony II | Diversity and Animation of Harmonies | Complementary of a Room | Triads in Decoration | Distribution and Intensity of Colors | Contrast - A Principle of Composition | Connecting Rooms Using Harmonious Color | 14. Ornament | Ornament | Naturalistic Ornament | Knowledge of Historic Ornament | 15. Excellence in Design | Excellence in Design - 1st Test of Excellence | Proper Use of Decorative Materials - 2nd & 3rd Tests of Excellence | Beauty in Design - 4th Test of Excellence | Designs with Walls and Wall Paper | Designs with Floor Coverings | Designs with Hangings | 16. Period Decoration Period Decoration | Different Styles in Different Periods | Decorating Traditions Handed Down from the Kings | Peculiar Styles and Decorations of Different Periods | 17. Conclusion | Conclusion

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