PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN…
The designer works with the 4 tools or elements of
design: line, form, color, and texture. But now they
must follow the “RULES” about using those tools.
The rules are called the principles of design.
There are 5 principles
to the size
can be found
within an object or
design. It includes
the relationship of
parts to each other
and parts to the
Are the shades and
the bases in the right
proportion for the
height of these floor
The Golden Mean, discovered by
the ancient Greeks, is also
known as the Golden Section,
Golden Ratio and Divine
Proportion. It is a ratio or
proportion defined by the
Phi (Φ = 1.618033988749895...)
The Golden Rectangle: not too long;
not too skinny; most pleasing to the eye
The golden mean divides any
line or form at “just the right
point”, somewhere between
one-third and one-half the
distance from one end. It is
considered the most visually
The golden mean is the
division of a line anyplace
between one-half and onethird of its total length. The
curtains to the right are tied
back at the golden mean for
The Golden Mean
The draperies to the left each
illustrate a way of using tie-backs at
the golden mean… one higher and
The golden mean has many applications in interior design.
An afghan has been thrown over the back and arm
of this chair in a casual manner for accent. It covers
far too much of the chair to be visually pleasing
however. Like the bottom picture depicts, it would
be more attractive if it was laying between the 1/3
and ½ point of the chair back.
The focal point of the wall arrangement
falls exactly at the golden mean… a place
between one-half and one-third of the
total furniture arrangement.
The designer wants to place this plant on a
shelf. According to the golden mean, which
placement is more pleasing to the eye?...
Placing the plant slightly
to the left of the center;
between 1/3 and ½ of the
distance from the end?
Placing the plant
directly in the center
of the shelf?
The asymmetry of the golden mean is usually more
pleasing to the eye, so you would want to place the
According to the
golden mean, which
coffee table length is
the most pleasing?
A coffee table that is the
same length as the sofa?
A coffee table that is2/3
the length of the sofa?
A coffee table that is half
the length of the sofa?
placement of 3
plants on this
Where would you place 3
plants on this ladder, using
the two-thirds rule?
Related to the Golden Mean is the 'Two Thirds Rule' within art and
design. It involves creating a place of emphasis or focus within the
composition. The point of emphasis is found by dividing the painting
into three parts vertically and then horizontally; where the dividing
lines meet (there are four points) are supposedly aesthetically
pleasing places to put the focus of the composition. It is not natural
to have objects perfectly centered and symmetrical.
related to proportion;
refers to how the size of an
object relates to
human beings or other objects or spaces
in a design.
Which lamp is the best scale for this end table?
Evaluate the scale of the two chairs in this arrangement?
Because homes and furniture are built for humans, it is
important to use the human figure in evaluating their scale.
who will use
Although humans find miniatures
intriguing and massive scale
awesome, neither is a
In the bedroom picture below, draw a
framed picture above the headboard,
paying particular attention to making that
frame proportionately correct for the scale
of other furnishings.
This small table and flowers are in the
foyer of a home. The client wants a
framed picture above the table also.
Draw in the frame, using the “rule of
two-thirds” for placement guidelines.
Show how you arrived at your
placement, by showing the lines.
• Preparing individuals for life and work
• Strengthening families
• Empowering communities
Created by Barbara L. Swarthout, Family & Consumer
Sciences teacher at Elkhorn High School