When people are asked about balance in Interior Design, most would mention the concept of symmetry, where you mirror elements and aim to make two sides the same. Symmetrical design was integral in the design of stately homes. Think built-in book shelves on either side of a fireplace or double sofas on opposite sides of a coffee table in a sitting room. It traditionally provided a well presented, formal setting.
It’s true that the use of symmetry creates harmonious spaces. It allows the eye to immediately read a pattern, where nothing looks out of place which in turn gives us the sense of balance.
But what if you want something to look out of place? Create a feature? Something that is a little more visually exciting?
In contrast, asymmetry embraces differences and whilst in the definition, asymmetry is the lack of symmetry it does not mean a lack of balance. In the place of mirroring or duplication, it applies similarity of form, line, texture or colour, to create a less obvious pattern and ultimately make a space a little more interesting.
The image of an asymmetrical fireplace is a great example of this. There isn’t any symmetry, instead there are two very different elements placed on either side of the wall. It cleverly uses alignment and white space to create balance, whilst the strong black horizontal line, adds weight to the design feature and tricks your eye to move from one element to another. The design has a lot more to think about yet it’s still simple, the continuous colour scheme keeps it harmonious.
Even the placing of the two black armchairs are asymmetrical. Whilst it would have been easy to use the same colour for all the seating, the 2 black armchairs are less obvious, they almost visually disappear. This is used instead of a more formal setting created by using symmetrical furniture placement. Asymmetry is not about perfection, it creates a more laid back lived in space ideal for family and entertaining spaces.
Asymmetry is a fundamental principle for Interior Designers, but if you’re someone who is seeking a more playful space or wanting to create a more casual setting, don’t be scared of trying it yourself.
Here are a few ideas on how to apply the concept to your own home.
Mix and match your seating around the dining table. Maybe a bench on one side to make things visually more interesting or add a nook to your eat-in-kitchen to create a relaxed sunny spot for breakfast.
Add shelves to your kitchen alongside a top hung cabinet, it creates a lighter look and allows you to keep your favourite pieces on display, why not add a herringbone tiled back splash to be on trend.
Mix open and closed cabinets in your study, offset the open shelf or create a playful combination of squares to break up storage and give it a less corporate look.
Don’t forget with asymmetry there really are no rules, you need to trust your instincts.
How have you used Asymmetry in your home?