LECTURE THREE Design Principles: Balance, Rhythm Emphasis and Harmony

Design Principles: Balance, Rhythm Emphasis and Harmony

Design Principles: Balance, Rhythm Emphasis and Harmony


a state of equalibrium of the visual forces in a composition.
Balance depends upon visual weights of the architectural and interior elements -- visual weight is determined by “the psychological impact an element makes on us and the the attention it demands.

Three types of Balance, Symmetrical/Asymmetrical/Radial

Axial or bilateral symmetry (formal/passive) :
arrangement of identical elements about a common line (axis).symmetry is static and demands little attention from the observer, totally symmetrical spaces impose a strict formality and are difficult functionally and literally.
Symmetry can be used to focus attention on something important.
Visual interest is enhance by inclusion of more than one axis: arrangement of dissimilar elements/spaces to achieve optical balance.


is less obvious, it stirs interest and curiousity in the observer and provokes thought.

Vertical Balance is also at issue the higher above eye level something is the more visual Weight it carries.

Radial balance:

arrangement of elements or spaces around a center point.


continuity, recurrence or organized movement in space & time. Sequence is the experience of the rhythm. One space may have several different rhythms ...


the regular or harmonious recurrence of elements, including: lines, shapes, forms or colors.horizontal (beams) and vertical (columns) Rhythms / Grids MacIntosh Work connecting points in space.


a sequence or transition produced by increasing or decreasing one or more qualities, progression is ordered systematic change: Radiation (as in a spiral) , gradation (as in forms or colors that evolve).


deliberate placement of elements to create opposition by abrupt transition rather than gradual. Contrast heightens values/interest through comparison (or Tension).


the creation of dominant and subordinant elements in a composition:
• emphisis also involves a temporal element.....certain visual images engage one’s attention before releasing it so that one can attend to other stimuli.

Layers of emphasis

Points of emphisis can be created by enhancing the visual weight or psychological impact.


the pleasing agreement of parts or combination of parts in a composition --

Harmony involves the selection/design of elements that share a common trait, however, Harmony becomes monotony without Variety.

Common traits orientation colors or values shape/size materials variety: the extent of the differences in design elements -- visual interest is enhanced by introducing dissimilar elements and spatial arrangements.