Fundamentals of Art and Design 3(1+2)


Emphasis is the principle of design that directs the designer to have a centre of interest in any arrangement, a dominating idea, form or color scheme. Every design or arrangement needs some note of interest that catches the eye or arrests the attention. This may be referred to as the center of interest or point of emphasis or dominant area. Goldstein H. and Goldstein V. defined, Emphasis as the art principle by which the eye is carried first to the most important thing in any arrangement and from that point to every other detail in the order of its importance.

The standards for judging beauty, as well as for the utilitarian objects are the suitability to purpose, simplicity and beauty. The way to achieve simplicity is to understand emphasis and subordination; in other words, to know how to subordinate the less important details in an arrangement so that they may become supplementary or supporting accents rather than competing centers of interest.

For ex: A room with figured wall paper, freely hung with pictures, carpeted with conspicuously patterned rugs, and still further confused with figured furniture covers, crowded shelves which together are overcrowded and confusing through each one is beautiful. Why are these combinations bad? Because people have put equal emphasis upon all, in confusion resulting and the designer have not thought of subordination.

The effort of the designer or the decorator in creating or arranging the pleasing environment would be successful only when the individual has the knowledge of What to emphasize, How to emphasize, How much to emphasize, and where to place emphasis.

What to Emphasize:

The designer would classify his material arrange it according to what he considered the most important features may vary. One golden rule that needs to be followed is that backgrounds should be less conspicuous than the objects to be seen against them.

How to Emphasize:
There are several means by which one may create emphasis, or attract attention and the most important of these are:
  1. By the placing or grouping of objects
  2. By the use of contrasts of color
  3. By using sufficient plain background space around objects
  4. By contrasting or use of unusual lines, shapes or sizes.
Grouping or placing of objects:

By grouping and placing of objects of similar size, shape, color or texture, emphasis can be achieved. For ex: grouping of furniture in a living room, arranging chairs around a circular dining table, grouping of pictures , accessories etc.

Emphasis through contrasts of color:

Since the eye is quickly attracted by strong contrasts of light and dark, or by contrasting color, one of the most striking means of calling attention to any object is to place it against a background with which it contrasts. If, striking contrasts of light and dark are to be used in any decorative scheme of a considerable size, they should be tried together. This can be done by combining with them a large amount of intermediate values somewhere between these two extremes. The arrangement that shows equal amounts of light and dark would be as confusing as two equal centers of interests in a picture. The final effect of a good composition should be that of a dark scheme accented with lights, or of a light scheme made interesting through its dark notes.

Emphasis gained through the use of decoration:

Emphasis can be gained by highly decorated object made for purpose to please the eye. The household use such decorative objects in order to create emphasis, either through its color or its design pattern. For example: A colorful painting, an accessory or a sculpture for a room.

Emphasis through in surface patterns:

In order to judge a good surface pattern, one must first consider the way it is to be used. A surface pattern that is good for a background has two main characteristics. First, the design covers the surface rather closely and secondly, there is very little contrast between the lights and darks. Problems are faced while selecting table linens, wall papers, rugs and upholstery materials that have surface pattern.

The two things, then of greatest importance in selecting surface patterns for backgrounds are color contrast and the amount of plain space around. Secondly, if there is a strong contrast between lights and darks, an object is much more conspicuous than when the colors are very similar. If these two considerations are kept in mind, one will not go wrong in choosing a surface pattern to serve as a background; if the design is flat, covers the surface well and of related colors, it will quiet in effect.

Emphasis through plain space around objects:

First, an object gains important when it is separated from the things around it and is given enough plain space as a background. Secondly, when objects are placed close together, they are seen as a group and not as individual units. Use of plain spaces is one of the most important considerations in emphasis, because plain backgrounds bring out the quality of every object seen against them.

How much to emphasize:

In order that one may get general as well as a comparative idea of how much to emphasize is a difficult question to answer, because the suitable amount of emphasis varies with every problem. Emphasis may be regarded as a graded scale and the greatest amount of force that can be used with good taste. How much emphasis will it be ideal to use. The best general answer to the question is Keep it simple.

Emphasis in Interior design:

The amount of emphasis suitable for interiors cannot be stated definitely. The proportion of emphasis to rest of the fsdspace in a room should be approximately the Greek proportion of two parts to three- that is, two parts of attraction in pattern or color and three parts of quiet space. We should use two parts of either one against three parts of plain background.

Distribution of emphasis in a room:

With the approximate amount of plain and pattern space in mind, the designer will decide where and how to make the distribution.

For example, if one decides to take three parts of plain space in walls and rug, that leaves the possibility of selecting patterned draperies and furniture covers, pictures and decorative objects, so adjusted in their various attractions that the sum of them will be less than the rest of the background. If the walls and the rug have pattern, it would be essential to choose draperies and furniture covering whose interest lies in good color and texture instead of pattern. The first plan of plain walls and floor is chosen more frequently for living rooms, because it affords an opportunity to make more individual choices in the smaller things, a pleasant distribution of plain and patterned surfaces.

Since it is well to limit the amount of pattern in a room, one should decide where it will be enjoyed most and then subordinate the other objects in the room so that the pattern may be appreciated. Although ordinarily one thinks of using pattern to secure variety in room furnishing, the same interest can be obtained by using plain fabrics. If plain fabrics differing in color and texture are skillfully arranged in fairly large areas, they create the impression of pattern. In such rooms there should be a blending and contrast of colors so that the pattern formed may be effective.

Last modified: Monday, 13 February 2012, 11:27 AM