Chapter 4: Shape and Form!
Shape is a defined two-dimensional area. Whereas form is a defined three-dimensional area. Form is actually an extension of shape, bringing that third dimension of depth in.
Types of Shape
Geometric shapes and forms are those that are man-made. They’re the ones we all learned in geometry class (which I hated!). Geometric shapes each have a specific name and can be described by math.
Organic shapes and forms are free-form shapes and forms. They are often found in nature and can be characterized as irregular and uneven. Organic shapes can be curved, angular, or a combination of the two.
Open and Closed
Shapes and forms can either be open, giving the viewer the ability to look through them. Or shapes and forms can be closed, self-contained.
Positive and Negative
Shape and form can be created in one of two ways, with positive and negative shape and form. So the positive shape or form is the object itself, and the negative shape or form is the shape or form created around the object.
Effects of Shape and Form
As with line and color, the different types of shape and form create different feelings for the viewer. Geometric shapes give an air of rigidity, structure, and precision. On the opposite end, organic shapes convey softness, flexibility, fluidity, and movement.
Goal when Using Shape and Form
As with line and color, the goal for using shape is balance and cohesiveness. With regard to shape and form, this is achieved with similar shapes and forms. Using too many different shapes and forms can become confusing and overwhelming for the viewer. As with line and color, it’s best to choose a dominant form or shape that conveys the feeling that you want to attain for the room. Repeat this shape or form in different objects throughout the room, and then supplement with one or two other types of form or shape for visual interest.
Analyzing Shape and Form
A great way to analyze the shapes and forms in your space is to simplify them. Make a drawing of your room and reduce the forms to shapes to see what your overarching theme is in terms of shape and form and where you might add similar or contrasting shapes for visual interest. See below for an example of how to do this.
Shapes and forms don’t have to be added in the form of large, expensive pieces of furniture. You can incorporate them in wall hangings, accessories, pillows, patterns, plants, etc. Just adding a little bit more continuity or contrast to enhance the vibe you’re going for can make a tremendous difference in the overall look and feeling of your room.
Go Forth and Incorporate!
Shape and form are something that most of us don’t usually think about. But when incorporated into a room with intention, they can have a huge effect on the overall feeling of the room. And while I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Well, that’s great, Nerissa, but I don’t have money to go buy new furniture with a different form,” it really doesn’t have to be expensive. As I mentioned above, small touches really can make a huge difference if incorporated with intention. So go give it a shot. Even if it’s just a couple new pillows or a mirror, it will make a difference!
For more affordable and practical ways to use the Elements and Principles of Design to make your house a home, check out my other Elements and Principles of Design posts. And be sure to stay tuned for the rest of my Elements and Principles of Design series!