We’ve explored the concept of line in a previous column, and the elements of form and shape are closely related: shape is a closed line, two-dimensional, while form is its 3-D equivalent. As you might expect, the emotional responses evoked b shape and form are related as well. Regular shapes such as squares and rectangles represent strength and convention, angular forms can be dynamic or aggressive, and asymmetric shapes produce movement and surprise. When combining these shapes, harmony and unity evoke stability and tradition, while variety and contrast create movement and excitement.
Living rooms are a prime example of how shape and form can affect the mood of a space. Matching sofas in the living room by Noelle Micek set the stage for a calm, unified room. Although the chairs feature a curve at the edge of their arm, the overall form feels quite similar to the sofas. We see more square and rectangular forms in the coffee table, ceiling millwork, and artwork. Micek incorporates a little bit of variety with a pair of round garden stools and triangle shapes in the coffee table base, but only enough to keep the room from being boring.
In addition to the mix of shapes, Micek’s skirted upholstery connects directly to the floor, which promotes an additional sense of security. Billy Baldwin once remarked that too many naked chair legs caused him to feel “restless”, as if they were about to get up and walk away. He had a point. Leggy furniture styles can create a feeling of airiness, which is particularly useful in smaller spaces, which is particularly useful in smaller spaces, but they also lack the visual weight that laves us feeling grounded and secure. A more contemporary alternative to Micek’s skirted sofas would be a fully upholstered sofa base that reveals only a short block leg, if any.
Eugenia Soler Roig’s living room shows a lot of exposed lef in the double coffee tables, chair, and side tables. She balances them witha strong sofa and folding screen, which serve to anchor the space. Still, you can see that the overall effect is very elegant and quire formal – probably not where you’d choose to curl up for a nap. We also see more curved shapes in Roig’s space, including the coffee table bases and carved chair arms. the contrast of those rounded forms against rectangular elements of the room makes for a much more visually dynamic space.
As always, your first consideration should be the kind of mood you’d like to create in your home. While Roig’s dynamic room makes for a better cocktail party setting, Micek’s space is where you’d want to be for a weekend TV marathon. If you have a few favorite designers already, look back through their portfolios and observe how they combine form and shape. Do they tend towards masculine or feminine forms, or a mix of both? Are there any combinations that appear over and over in their designs? Now take a look at your own home, and evaluate how the shapes you’ve selected relate to one another. Are they complementary or competing? Finally, do those forms create the appropriate mood for your space?
*As an interior and furniture designer for Austin Home Interiors (www.austinhomeinteriors.com), McNeill Shiner is always looking for new ways to mix styles and influences to create spaces that are uplifting, comfortable and very personal.