Fundamentals of Art and Design 3(1+2)


Harmony is the art prin­ciple which produces an impression of unity through the selection and arrangement of consistent objects and ideas. When all the objects in a group seem to have a strong "family resemblance," that group illustrates the principle of harmonious selection and when these "friendly" articles are so arranged that the leading lines follow the shape of the object on which they are placed, Harmony has been secured in both selection and arrangement. In any composition principles of harmony have five aspects of harmony: (1) line and shape, (2) size, (3) texture, (4) idea, and (5) color.

Harmony of lines in a composition:
The types of lines in a composition can be reduced to three main groups:
  • Harmony through repetition of lines in a composition.
  • Harmony in lines which contrast with one another.
  • Harmony in lines through transition, which soften or modify the other.

When a set of lines is drawn within a corner, following the lines of the corner, repetition occurs Fig.3.20 (A). This is the simplest kind of harmony. When a horizontal and a vertical line come together as in a right angle or a corner, these lines are in opposition to each other and form aFig.3.20 (B). A straight line drawn across a corner, as in figure Fig.3.20 (C), is so sudden and a sharp contrast that it cuts off the corner harshly. That type of line is called contradiction. Transi­tional line in its best sense is an easy, graceful line which leads from one line or shape to another, giving harmony instead of contradic­tion. If a curved line were drawn across a corner, as in figure, the sharpness of the opposition of the horizontal and vertical lines would be modified, and that effect is transition


So, in planning interiors or exterior design the interior designers, architects and the designers as creators of art, needs to plan carefully the lines depending on the needed effect.

Harmonious lines and shapes
  • A combination of lines results in shapes. Applying the three types of line-repetition, contrast and transition-to shapes that are seen in combination with one another, it will be seen that shapes corresponding to one another are in perfect harmony' (figure E)
  • The most harmonious shape that can be put into a rectangle is an­other rectangle of the same shape.
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  • A circle makes the closest harmony within another circle. Lines that oppose or contradict each other form contrasts in shapes and are the opposite of harmony (figure F).
  • Some examples of these contradicting shapes are triangles and diamond shapes within squares, oblongs, and circles. Such combinations should be used only where extreme contrasts are desired (figure G).
  • Transitional lines have a graceful, softening effect and have the power to bring together shapes which might in themselves be in harmony (figure H).

Application of Transitional lines in interiors and exteriors:

The transitional lines in interiors can be used through lines in furnishings, window curtains, arrangement of group of pictures on the wall, use of lamps and furniture.

Line used in architecture of the house, like the lines in ceiling, sloping roof, stair case, window sills, arched doorways, arcs of semicircular nature and the niches creates interest in interiors through their harmonious lines and the plain surfaces. An impression of gracefulness, serenity is achieved.

Similarly in exteriors, horizontal, vertical or arch lines of doors, windows add dignity, predominance, strength and graceful effect to the building (Fig 3.23).

Added to this the plantings, flowers, shrubs, the lawns and garden lamp stands- the repetition, in lines, shapes, sizes and colors, add harmony if planned well ahead.

Harmony in arrangements of Shapes:
  • In any arrangement where a number of shapes are used, there should always be an effect of organization, or, in other words, an orderly arrangement. If a sense of order is to result, harmony in shapes must be present. For ex: Furniture arrangement in interiors.
  • Large objects or masses should be placed to follow the boundary lines of the enclosing shape,
  • Only the smaller objects should vary from the general directions.For ex: Placement of an ash tray.
  • To give variety, some of the small objects may be placed at slightly varied angles. For ex: A photo, framed picture, Flower arrangements, accessories, etc.
  • Too many angles that sharply contradict the leading lines result in confusion instead of creating interest.
Last modified: Monday, 13 February 2012, 11:04 AM