Interior Design Elements: Form


  1. Form can be organised into 2 categories: natural and man-made (P J Santos[1], 2019). This staircase inside London City Hall by the architecture firm Foster + Partners demonstrates natural form as it is organic and free flowing, resembling a naturally occurring shape. This type if form encourages exploration as it is unexpected in design.
  2. The Armani store in Milan designed by Claudio Silvestrin[2] demonstrates man-made form; clean, rectangular lines dominate this space. The lines running through the space, which are followed by the tables, lighting and clothes rails, increase the sense of length and order in the room. This type of form encourages movement through the space and allows the objects to dominate as the design is expected.
  3. Form is often the first element that is designed as it guides the overall look and feel of the space. As shown in the initial sketches of the Panama Puente de Vida Museo by Frank Gehry[3], the very first inspiration came from the geometric form of the building. The collection of individuals roofs resembles tents, each one is a different colour which brings a playful dimension and stands out against the surrounding landscape without looking unnatural.
  4. F Ching[4] (2007) said of form that “We use the term to denote the formal structure of work – the manner of arranging and coordinating the elements and parts of a composition so as to produce a coherent image.” The repetition of the form of the arches at Kirkstall Abbey creates a feeling of unity and allows the eye to travel easily through length and height of the space.
  5. This transitional space by Jayne Wunder[5] shows a mixture of forms: the traditional curved arch, sweeping banister and twisted horn accessory convey gentle movement. This is juxtaposed with straight vertical and horizontal lines of the table, mirrors and stairs. This simple space could be underwhelming as there are not many objects, colours or furniture. However mixing form makes it dynamic and interesting.
  6. When L Sullivan[6] (1896) said: “Form ever follows function”, he meant that good design was when the function of the building/product was evident through its form. The form of Sebastien Bergne’s vase is defined by its function which is to hold plants. The form of the chair by Satyendra. Pakhale is dictated by peoples seating position; it has a curved back to mimic the curve of the spine. The Alessi juicer is designed to be able to place a cup below to catch the juice. This quite literal loveseat allows two people to cuddle in comfort as the person underneath does not have to support any weight. The form of these products is defined by their function.
  7. Although the principle of form following function has guided many designers, this was not always the case. As shown by this fireplace in Quex house, the complex, detailed form has been chosen for decoration. However, it could be argued that for the interior designer, decoration is in itself a function as it makes the space more pleasurable to inhabit.
  8. According to Mark Gelernter[7] (1995), the origins of form can be organized into 5 types: function led, defined by the designer’s own style, inspired by visual culture, socio-economic, and timeless principles. The form of the Royal Circus in Bath, as for the majority of classical design, is defined by timeless principles “like Golden section, Pythagoras, Alberti, Kepler, Modular etc, [these] show the coherence of composition and geometry. The result of these formulas are generally seen as the ideal proportion and epitome of aesthetics and harmony.” (Preet S[8], 2014) There is repetition of geometric form and symmetry which creates a uniform, relaxing visual experience.
  9. The auditorium in the Heydar Aliyev Center, designed by Zaha Hadid[9], is initially function-led, as the shape of the ceiling and walls are designed for their acoustic properties. In addition to this however, we can see an influence from the designer. “Known as the “queen of curves,” Zaha Hadid’s architecture isn’t easily grouped with one particular architectural style. It was a purposeful choice, as Hadid preferred not to limit her practice to a specific movement. She is well-known for her use of geometric shapes to create dynamic, fluid structures. Certainly, much of her influence stems from her love of abstract painting and drawing.” (Steward J[10], 2018) The form of the ceiling is continued into the seats creating a flow, the space almost seems to be made up of waves.
  10. “The Gestalt Principles are a set of laws arising from 1920s’ psychology, describing how humans typically see objects by grouping similar elements, recognizing patterns and simplifying complex images.” (Interaction Design[11] (n.d)) The repetition of columns along the left side of the swimming pool creates a visual divider, the pool is separated from another space behind the columns. Although the division is not completely solid, we recognise the pattern and mentally complete the wall. In addition to this, the repetition of straight columns is contrasted by the various circle shapes on the ceiling. The columns are comfortable to look at as the repeated pattern is expected, the circles create surprise and visual interest.
[1]Managing Director of Development at Gemdale USA Corporation 
[2] Italian Architect and Designer
[3] American Architect
[4] Architecture and Design Writer
[5] Interior designer
[6] American Architect called ‘the father of skyscrapers’
[7] Architectural historian
[8] Architecture blogger
[9] Iraqi-British architect, first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004
[10] Writer for My Modern Met
[11] Provider of design education

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